Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick – The SMART Way

Welcome to January 2021! If you are like I am, you couldn’t wait for 2020 to end, to turn the calendar page to a new year and a new start. And, if you are like I am, you probably set some New Year’s Resolutions, or goals, as I prefer to call them. I have been setting goals for years. They are what help propel me forward. To bring your resolutions to fruition, think of them as goals, and do as I do.

To get the most of your goals, you need to set SMART ones. SMART is an acronym used in the business management world to help executive and other big shots get things done. Each letter represents a vital part of your goal.

Here’s how SMART works:

S: For your goal to have teeth, it needs to be specific. To say, “I want to lose weight” is too vague. Instead, say “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

M: Your goal also needs to be measurable. If we use the same example, you can count “10 pounds,” you can’t count “lose weight.”

A: The next part requires that your goal be attainable. Let’s say you’ve spent all of 2020 on your couch watching Netflix (didn’t we all!) and now you want to set a fitness goal. To set a goal that you will run the L.A. Marathon this March is probably not doable, given your sedentary starting point. But, setting a goal to run a 10K this March is probably very doable, aka attainable.

R: Your goal also needs to be relevant. By relevant, I mean a goal that excites you, that will really make a difference for you, that means something to you. Maybe you always had a dream to write a novel. In fact, you have several unfinished first drafts buried in a file only you know how to find. Using SMART, you can write a workable first draft within 2021.

T: And, finally, we come to timeline. Adding a deadline to your goal is the wind beneath its wings. If we go back to the first goal example,

“I want to lose 10 pounds” and add “by April 30,”, that, my friend, is a SMART goal. It checks all of the boxes.

Take some time today to rewrite your New Year’s resolutions into SMART goals and get started. Remember what the author Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said,

“A goal without a plan is just a wish!”

May 2021 be the year when all your goals are met. Here’s to a happy and very healthy new year!

By Dr. Sheila Forman

Forman is a clinical psychologist based in Santa Monica who provides teletherapy services. For more information, call 310-828-8004 or go to

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