Why the Most Successful People Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals

New Year’s resolution stats aren’t promising. By January 12, most resolutions start to slip, and by February, 80% of people give up on them entirely. And then we wonder why the winter blues come upon us so swiftly…

It’s never a great way to start your new year by feeling the lash of disappointment in yourself, and then a resolute hunkering down to business as usual. This desire to see and feel change in your life is admirable, and becoming a better version of yourself over the long term is the mission if you’re at all “woke.” But maybe you were asking too much of yourself when the ball dropped on 2019, and maybe your resolutions weren’t set up in a way to actually tee you up for success in the first place. And although you made those resolutions with the best of intentions, it was unknowingly a form of self-sabotage, because you didn’t actually have a practical plan to concretely move the needle forward.

Enter the acronym S.M.A.R.T.: Drumroll, please.

By breaking down a personal goal, resolution, or vision and running it through the acronym S.M.A.R.T., you have a higher chance of actually bringing that goal to fruition, and in turn feeling good about who you are—which, if you boil down any aspiration, is what it’s all about anyway!

Specific: clear, concise, tangible. The narrower the goal, the more you’ll understand the necessary steps to achieve it.

Measurable: dollars, volume, time, experiences. Provide a way to evaluate your success.

Achievable: within your scope. Possible to accomplish and attain.

Relevant: worth your time and provides a positive benefit in your life.

Timely: a deadline or a time frame of when you’ll complete it.

Since 55% of resolutions are health-focused, let’s pick “be in better health”—a very familiar, general goal with no concrete plan or accountability attached, making it difficult to accomplish. So, let’s work it through the acronym, and see it become a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

Specific: I will cut out junk food as a first step toward being healthy, and phase out gluten and sugar as I go (good parameters).

Measurable: I will have no processed food in my pantry and only organic produce in my fridge by February (concrete reduction).

Achievable: I will see a nutritionist to help me design a healthy eating plan to sustain my interest and enjoyment of this new plan for nutritious eating over the long-term (doable, with support and accountability).

Relevant: I will lose weight and have less joint pain as a result, and I will look and feel better about myself for the first time in years (high stakes, good buy-in).

Timely: I will immediately start walking three times a week for 20 minutes. By March, I will join a gym and try different classes. By April, I will up my workouts to four days a week (deadlines to work toward).

S.M.A.R.T. goal: I will focus on my eating habits and lead a healthier lifestyle by also exercising regularly by spring.

So write down your goals, resolutions, and intentions. Then break them down into parts with S.M.A.R.T. Watch yourself move into action and a concrete plan for living your best life and making 2020 everything you want it to be: your best year yet!