How SMART goals make your New Year’s resolutions stick

So how many already have trouble to stick to their healthy New Year’s resolutions? A new year is a great way to start with a clean slate and leave unhealthy habits behind. Right before New Years, we are still totally convinced that the next year will be the year that everything changes, then then first month into the new year, we realise that it’s harder than imagined and by mid February, we realise that we probably won’t be able to stick to all the healthy New Year’s resolutions. So let me help you turn the tide…

Which resolutions did you pick? Which one of the following did you pick: quit smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly, stress less? Or did you pick all of those? Only because you realise that it’s not going as well as you expected doesn’t mean that you’ll not be able to make it. You just might have to adapt a bit, and here is why:

Healthy New Year’s resolutions, doomed to fail?

We tend to make things way too difficult for ourselves. We have much higher expectations to ourselves than we would ever have to someone else. Plus, nowadays persistence & patience are underrated, we tend to want everything now, but that’s unfortunately not how it works if you want to achieve sustainable change.

When I was in Luxembourg mid January, I did a talk about this topic, so I really thought a lot about this topic. I asked many friends what they struggle with most with their New Year’s resolutions and wrote down my own thoughts. I wanted to come up with something really tangible and easy to implement for everyone.

New Year's resolution - start of the right way

S-M-A-R-T goals can help your personal goals too

Maybe some have already heard of S-M-A-R-T goals and are using it in their professional life as performance indication.
Well, you can just as well use them in your personal life, especially for your personal goals. So, basically every letter of the word “smart” stands for something.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Reasonable

T: Time-based

New Year's resolutions - usually one is to become healthy

How to apply SMART goals to your New Year’s resolutions

Let me explain how this works based on an example that might have been part of your New Year’s resolutions for this year.

Eating less animal products

S: I will eat plant-based on workdays at night

M: 5 plant-based dinners per week

A: make baby steps, instead of going completely vegan, you change incrementally

R: You will probably have times where not every workday dinner will be vegan and that’s ok

T: do a 30 day challenge and see how you feel, break it into smaller steps instead of saying the whole year

New Year's resolutions - mark it in your calendar

To sum it up, make sure you’re setting very specific goals that are not vague at all, like exercise more, be less stressed, eat healthier because that can mean a million things.

Set resolutions that are measurable, so you can track them and know when you achieve them. Like that for example you can tick the days off in your calendar and have a nice overview how you’ve done.

Then make the goal achievable, it’s very unlikely that from one day to the next you will be able to exercise daily or go vegan completely, change happens incrementally. And have an action plan, if you want to eat plant-based for dinner, check out easy recipes that you’d like to cook and plan what you need and when to cook. If you’d like to┬ádrink less caffeine, check on how to substitute caffeine.

The next point is in my opinion the most important one, or at least the one I struggle most with. Be reasonable, we are all human and not machines that work 100% and 24/7, we have phases where we are down and phases where we feel great. And our goals will follow that scheme, it’s ok if you have a bad week and aren’t able to follow through on your goals, that doesn’t mean you failed. Remember, most people’s inner voices are assholes, if we would speak to others like we do to ourselves, we wouldn’t have friends.

And lastly, break your goals into time-based pieces, a whole year can be very long and your view on things might change, maybe you’ll realise that you don’t like going to the gym but your New Year’s resolution was going to the gym more often. Like that you have room for change.

Would love to know how you apply the SMART goals to your New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments ­čÖé