Sticking to your new year’s resolutions

The new year has officially begun, with many people proclaiming “new year, new me” right before setting out some new year’s resolutions. Most people think that they’ll fail these resolutions after a month and just go back to being their normal selves. However, with a few simple tips, you can be on your way to actually accomplishing your goals.

The first step to achieving your resolutions is all about setting the right ones. Much like any other goal or plan, your new year’s resolutions should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely).

First, setting specific goals gives you something tangible to reach for. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight this year”, try “I’m going to lose and keep off 10 pounds by December.”

Next up, making them measurable makes it easy to check progress on your goals. Losing 5 pounds makes you 50% done with your goal of losing 10 pounds. If you were just “going to lose weight”, then five pounds is just a random amount with no meaning. Achievable goals are those that you can reasonably reach this year. Going along with our example, losing 10 pounds is much more achievable than losing, say, 50.

Next, make your goals relevant by choosing goals that will make a visible impact on how you live your life. Don’t set goals like “quit smoking” or “quit drinking soft drinks” if you don’t already do those things. Those goals aren’t helpful to you or the people around you and will lower your expectations of yourself.

Last, your resolutions should be timely. Ask yourself, “Can I actually accomplish this within a year?” If you make a resolution to, say, start a company from scratch and turn a profit, it may be very unrealistic to accomplish this in one year. Instead, a more realistic goal would be to simply start a business and finish the paperwork involved in creating a business. Now that we’ve set good, SMART goals, it’s time to start working on them.

For a personal example of new year’s resolutions, I asked Matt Mahon to share his resolutions and how he intends to make them happen. “Gain some muscle, skate faster, and play at a higher level next year.” These are some admirable goals, but they can be made better by making them SMART. For gaining muscle, he could instead set his goal at being able to lift 30 more pounds than his max. Instead of just skating faster, Mahon’s goal could be to skate at least five miles per hour faster on the ice. Playing at a higher level works as a SMART goal, as Mahon is going off to college and has a realistic opportunity of playing hockey in college. Mahon’s goals could use some work, but they’re pretty good over all.

Now, many people will end up failing their goals eventually. That’s alright. All you have to do is keep going. Sure, you fell, but you should get up and try again instead of staying down. If you keep trying at your goals, you can hit them eventually. As Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Don’t let your goals be missed shots. Keep shooting, and one day, you’ll reach your resolutions.