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How to make smart resolutions you can achieve

New Year's resolution
Bid good riddance to 2020 by setting new personal growth goals in 2021. Source: Alexander Nemenov/AFP

2020 was anything but ordinary. We had to forgo plans and postpone dreams to focus on surviving a pandemic. While it’s understandable that we’re all fatigued, there’s still hope that the new year will bring brighter days. Kudos if you’ve managed to achieve that New Year’s resolution made at the start of the year; if not, you can still set reasonable resolutions for 2021. Pro-tip: Use the acronym SMART when determining what you want to chase in the new year. That means your resolution should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Make it specific & relevant

While it’s good to dream big, you have to set realistic goals to have any chance of achieving them. New Year’ resolutions don’t just have to be relevant to your life vision, but also your life at this point in time. So before you decide what you want, ask yourself why you’re doing it.

In the words of psychiatrist and self-help author Dr Michael Bennett, “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long. But if you build up a process where you’re thinking harder about what’s good for you, you’re changing the structure of your life, you’re bringing people into your life who will reinforce that resolution, then I think you have a fighting chance.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lost weight, set an ideal weight, or which areas to target with your workouts. That way you can begin to plot how to achieve those metrics, which will place your goals within reach. Et voila, you now have an achievable resolution!

New Year's resolution

It’s hard to achieve a vague resolution, so set real metrics for your growth in the coming year. Source: Kena Betancur/AFP

Measure and track progress

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to figure out how to get it. This involves outlining the what, when, where, and why of your gameplan, as well as determining how you will measure progress. Whether it’s a weekly weigh-in or a photo, document your journey so you have proof that your efforts are bearing fruit.

Simply put, you must track your progress if you’re serious about success. If your New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking, for example, you can save the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a special fund. This way, you can track your progress by witnessing your savings grow, which can motivate you to keep going.

Set a time frame for your New Year’s resolution

We know that new habits are not formed overnight, so give yourself enough time to change. Set a deadline, but also create smaller goals on your journey towards achieving that resolution. With each milestone you hit, you’re getting that much closer to what you desire.

Setting reasonable expectations starts with knowing your abilities and respecting your limits. As the year picks up and we get back into a routine, it can be easy to lose sight of fresh goals. Make every effort to remind yourself — paste sticky notes around your living space, set time aside to work on it every day, get a buddy with similar goals to hold you accountable. Above all, be strict with yourself but also be kind and encouraging. That’s the ultimate winning attitude, right?