How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution

Annittra Atler
3 min readDec 30, 2022

In the midst of the holiday season, you may find yourself contemplating a new year’s resolution. While it’s an admirable venture, unfortunately, over half of the resolutions set, fail. In fact, a third of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to reach them by the end of January. In order to make a successful resolution, you need to identify the right one and develop a plan to reach it.

Many people make resolutions based on what society or someone else says will improve their lives. However, often times these resolutions are not realistic. Whether you want to achieve a new career milestone, shift your mindset, or pick up a new hobby, your resolution must have an actionable plan.

Whatever the goal, it should be SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, and achievable. This concept was coined in 1981 by the Management Review journal. It can help people set goals and improve their lives.

Specific

Instead of simply saying, “I want to lose weight,” one must have a specific goal. For instance, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks.” It should be something that you can actually achieve and have a specific time frame or measurement. When we make vague resolutions, oftentimes they fall by the wayside because there isn’t a way to track progress.

Measurable

Many resolutions are related to weight loss or fitness. Whatever the goal is, it must actually be achievable, and the more measurable a goal is, the more likely it is to be achieved. For example, if you’re hoping to lose weight, consider taking a photo at the beginning of your fitness journey. Keep a journal of what you eat, workouts, and calories consumed/burned each day.

Regardless of the resolution, keeping track of your progress can help reinforce it. Having a journal or an app that allows you to keep track of your actions will help keep you on track.

Achievable

Although it’s possible to have big goals, such as quitting smoking or improving your health, reaching them can be very frustrating because you don’t have the necessary time and resources to achieve them. For instance, if you’re planning on saving enough money to retire when you’re 30, achieving this goal might not be realistic. Instead, you can easily increase the amount of money you’re saving by making it a habit. Set small goals, reach them, and then set more!

Relevant

Are your goals relevant to you, and are they being made for the right reasons? According to psychiatrist Dr. Michael Bennett, people tend to fail at reaching their resolutions if they have a strong passion or self-hate in their resolve. However, if they build a process that involves thinking about what’s best for themselves, they can actually achieve their goals. “If you start thinking about what’s best for yourself, then you can actually make it happen,” said Bennett.

Time-bound

The goal should be realistic, and it should be achievable. This means setting aside time and resources to achieve it and having multiple small victories along the way. Charles Duthie, a former New York Times reporter, said that people who build habits tend to reach their goals in a more gradual manner.

Originally published on Annittra Atler’s website.

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Annittra Atler

Annittra Atler is the Associate Superintendent of Special Education for the Albuquerque Public Schools.