Setting Resolutions That Stick

Hi Crossroads Family, it’s New Year’s Eve! The day we reflect on the year behind us, and plan for the new year ahead. I’ve always struggled with setting new year resolutions, so much so that for a long time I thought they were a bad thing. My thinking pattern was this:

If I couldn’t do it before, how can I expect myself to do it now just because the date has changed?

Pessimistic, right? Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on goal setting and I think I’ve discovered my problem. I was setting vague goals! Take this goal:

I’m going to exercise more.

Sounds great, but what do I need to do to reach it? If exercising more is my goal, and I currently don’t exercise much at all, then a quick walk around the block would check that goal off of my list! With a vague goal like exercising more, I do not have any constraints to keep myself on track. That’s why I want to introduce you to SMART goal setting.


SMART goal setting is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives and has since become a well-known strategy to set goals that you can actually achieve! SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific – Your goal should be clear without any questions or grey areas. As yourself what you specifically want to accomplish, why it is important to you, and what the steps to accomplish it look like. Do you need to have any materials or resources to complete it? Do you need to schedule it? Are other people involved?

An example is: I want to exercise every Friday afternoon by completing a 30-minute online exercise course of my choosing in my living room. I will choose courses that do not require anything more than a yoga mat.


Measurable – You should be able to measure your goals so that you can track your progress and keep yourself accountable. To make sure your goal is measurable, ask yourself “How will I know when my goal is accomplished?”

For example, I will know my exercising goal is accomplished when I complete my 30-minute class each week.


Achievable – Is this a goal that you can realistically achieve? Goals can push you to strengthen your skills or stretch your abilities, but they should remain possible. Ask yourself, “How will I accomplish this?”, and “Based on my resources (time, money, space), can I do this?”

For example, I know that realistically, a bad goal for me would be to compete in a triathlon. I have no time to practice, I haven’t competed in a race since high school, and swimming straight is not my forte. Instead, if competing in a triathlon is something I really want to do at some point in my life, then I might start by setting the goal to go for a 30-minute run every week.


Relevant – Does this goal actually matter to you? Sometimes, we set goals just because they seem like the right thing to do, or because we feel that it is expected of us, but if you are not motivated to achieve your goal then the chance of you meeting it drops. When you set your goal, ask yourself “Does this matter to me?”, “Is now the right time to try?”, and “Does this match my values and priorities?”

My goal to exercise more is something that I actually want to do for myself and with the holidays ending and my free time increasing, now feels like the perfect time!


Time-Bound – What is the date that you want to achieve your goal by? Without setting dates to check-in, you may let your goal-work slip from time to time. Choose a date by which you realistically think you can accomplish your goal. If your goal is something you hope to do frequently, create a consistent schedule for it, such as every weekend for 2 hours. By creating time-bounds on goals, you prevent everyday tasks from getting in the day of your long-term goals.


So, let’s put it all together! My new SMART goal might look like this:

I care about exercising because I want to feel healthier and have more energy (Relevant), so I am going to complete one 30-minute exercise course at home every Friday afternoon (Measurable, Attainable, Specific, Time-Bound).


What do your resolutions look like now? Do you have any goals for the new year? Let us know in the comments!