Almost half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions every year, but only a small percentage fulfill them. Because we’re thinking about resolutions the wrong way. It’s time for a New Year’s mindset.

Reframe New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time to set New Year’s Resolutions the way we set goals at work. We would never make a commitment to our boss without a plan. However, we regularly make resolutions without a plan. Committing to workout every morning feels good, but amidst the stresses of life is forgotten by February.

The best-kept secret is to set SMART goals. The appearing in a 1981 article by George Doran the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Let’s take dieting, the most common New Year’s Resolution, and break it down. After a holiday season filled with overeating, salad every day feels achievable. But, statistically, your willpower will fade without a concrete strategy.


Let’s get Specific. What does dieting mean? Does it mean eating more greens? Or consuming less sugar? Let’s say this year it means cutting carbs. 


What counts as cutting carbs? Does it mean every meal, only dinner, or cutting out weekend binges? Do carbs from fruit count? Let’s shoot for cutting out the carbs we eat during our weekday office lunches.


Is this Achievable? Let’s calculate how many carbs we’ve been eating at lunch. If it’s been fast food and after lunch snacks from the vending machine every day, cutting out mid-day carbs completely might now be achievable. In this scenario, grabbing that snack a couple of days in a row could throw us off our game plan.


It’s time to get Relevant. Why are cutting carbs important? Most Americans are overweight, putting them at risk of heart disease and diabetes. Whatever the reason is, it’s important to think about how the goal is relevant to our own life. Giving goals personal context makes it more likely that we’ll keep working towards them.


Last is Time-bound. For the best odds of success, we need to break our goal into small monthly or weekly segments. If we’re currently eating a carb-heavy meal and snack every weekday, maybe we set a goal to limit ourselves to twice a week for a month. Then once a week for the second month. And repeat until you’ve achieved your optimal level. 

New Year’s Resolutions can give us a purpose and make life exciting. But to succeed we need a strategy. Turning your resolutions into SMART goals is the secret. Clearly define goals, make them realistic, and set a clear timeline.


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