By Scott Epp

Every New Year, millions of people decide that they have great ideas for their own New Year’s Resolutions. They are inspired by one thing or another and set out in search of the perfect New Year’s Resolutions – Resolutions like go to the gym more often, be more attentive to their spouses, commit to spending more time at home, invest more in business or property, pay off credit card debts, and so on.

People everywhere set great personal New Year’s Resolutions, fully intent on putting them into action. Then something happens: Life.

Life Changes New Year’s Resolutions

Life has a tendency to throw us all off our course. The gyms are empty by April. Spouses go back to ignoring their partners. More time is spent at work without any monetary gain. Investments are cashed out or unused and credit card companies experience record profits.

Life Has a Way of Happening

As soon as life takes over, it becomes harder and harder to keep to our personal promises. But as they say, life goes on, and every January you become more and more likely to create the same goals telling yourself “This time it will be different.”

Sadly, the stats disagree with you. In fact, as many as 33% of all New Years Resolutions don’t make it past January, and amazing 75% are abandoned soon after

[1]. The reason? Your resolutions were not met with commitment, passion or foundation. Your New Year’s Resolutions were based on what you think you should be doing, not what you truly wanted to do.

Life Changes Based on External Factors

Most of the resolutions we make are based on external factors that are in not our truest desires. You see a magazine that tells you to get in shape or watch investment tips on TV and decide that you are ready to take some action, buying into other people’s expectations and using those as your basis for your own resolutions.

To have a truly successful New Year’s Resolution, you need to forget about what other people think you should do and look instead at what YOU really want. Your goal should be something that you truly want and can realistically accomplish. You need to have SMART Resolutions

Using SMART Goal Setting

Ask yourself: Do you consider yourself to be living a full life?

Living a full life isn’t about making half-hearted decisions that don’t really mean anything or match any of the values you hold dear. It is about making decisions that are based on what is truly best for you.

One quality of successful people is that they trust their own choices. They are confident enough in themselves to know what they want and do what it takes to reach it. They don’t sit back and hope other people take control of their lives. They allow themselves to champion their own desires.

To gain this confidence, you need to first get in touch with what you truly value. You need to understand the values and principles that are most important to you. By taking the time for self-reflection, you will find that you can live a full life and understand the path to achieve it. Then they immediately jump in with both feet.

Best Selling Author Stephen Covey Discusses New Year’s Resolutions This Way:

“Begin the New Year by setting one New Year’s resolution. Ask yourself, ‘what one thing could I change that would significantly increase my happiness?’ Be honest with yourself and examine your intent, motive and desire for setting your goal. It must align with your deepest values, motivations and with what is most important to you. Otherwise, you won’t have the passion or discipline to stay committed when the going gets tough, especially when there are so many other things distracting you from achieving your resolution.”[2]

Understanding the SMART Resolution Action Plan

One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to use the SMART goal setting system. S.M.A.R.T. is a proven goal setting technique that coaches and counselors have used for many years.

The SMART goals plan will ensure that you achieve success in achieving your goals. The following is a summarized version of “Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals”: [3]

First of all you need to minimize your list down to 2 – 7 manageable resolutions.

“George Miller, a 1950′s psychologist, proposed that we can only deal with 7 bits of information at any one time.” Setting 20 goals may not be that helpful to you and you will be likely to become overwhelmed.  However, setting a manageable number like 5 goals may be the right fit.

Specific – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

  • *Who:      Who does this goal involve?
  • *What:     What do I want to accomplish with this goal?
  • *Where:    Where is the location or place of this goal?
  • *When:     When will you accomplish this goal? Set a time frame.
  • *Which:    Which things would hold you back from accomplishing this goal?
  • *Why:       Why do you want to accomplish this goal?

One common mistake when setting goals is that you aren’t detailed enough. This can cause problems when we need to articulate these goals to work mates, life partners or even to ourselves.  EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” A specific goal would be, “Join a Martial Arts Club by January 30th and commit to going three times a week in the current year.”

Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.  To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Realistic  or Relevant – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be.

Time-Bound – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs., when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a time frame, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

Reflect and Apply

This year, let your New Year’s Resolutions matter. You can live a fuller life. You can walk with more confidence and make choices that resolve to change what really matters to you. You may not be where you hoped to be with your confidence or your life’s direction, but it’s a new year. You can start to make SMART Resolutions today. Ask yourself: what one thing could I change that would significantly increase MY happiness?” Then set your SMART Resolutions that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.