Making SMART Resolutions This Year

By Alisha Bennett, LMSW

Each January, we decide on resolutions that we hope to continue throughout the year. However, in most cases they don't last last.  This is because we may not set goals that set us up for success. When setting annual goals in education settings for children, educators and parents make sure that each goal is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Timely/Trackable. 

I thought about this idea for adults. Setting goals like, “I want to eat better,” or “I want to be in better shape,” are too big and vague to keep up with.  This year, make a SMART resolutions.  Below are guidelines to do this with an example of how to make a big and vague resolution more SMART.  The Non-SMART Resolution I used is: “I want to be in better shape.”

SMART Resolution Guidelines:

Is it Specific? Answer each question when identifying your resolution:

  • Who?
    I am involved in getting myself into better shape.
  • What do I want to accomplish?
    I want to go to the gym more than twice a week like I do now.
  • Where?
    At the gym in my neighborhood.
  • When? Establish a time frame.
    After work twice a week and on the weekends.
  • Which requirements and constraints are there?
    I work late three nights a week, so I would only be able to go twice a week, Monday-Friday.
  • Why? The purpose or benefits of accomplishing the resolution.
    I will look and feel better.

Is it Measurable?

  • Can you measure your resolution over time and can you check the progress of the goal over a time period, such as a month, every 3 months or at the half year mark?
    I will keep track by marking the days that I go to the gym in a planner every week and will check the progress of my goal each month.

Is it Attainable?  

  • Will you be able to reach your goal by the end of the year?  Is it feasible to do this with the resources that you have?
    I can make it to the gym 4 times a week If I commit to this.  This is feasible and attainable.

Is it Realistic?

  • Can you achieve your resolution goal with the end results that you want?
    With my work schedule, this is realistic.  I know that I would not be able to go 7 days a week and would easily give up on this if it were my goal/resolution.

Is it Timely/Trackable?

  • Can you reach your goal within the time frame of one year?
    Yes, if I track my progress each month in my planner, I will be able to see if I met this resolution at the end of the 2017.

New SMART Resolution: “I will get into better shape this year by going to the gym in my neighborhood 4 times a week, at least twice during the work week and on the weekends.  I will keep track of this in my yearly planner by indicating which days I went to the gym week to week.  I will check on my progress monthly to see how I am doing and ensure that my resolution is attainable and realistic.”

Alisha Bennett, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support in making and reaching your goals,  visit to learn how therapy might be able to help.