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Getting SMART about your goals.

Kayla Sellers

Spring has sprung and the goals from our New Year’s resolution seem like they were made ages ago. It could be time to get SMART about your goals.


As the holidays took place, each year wrapped up with a period that offers time for a reflection of the months prior. During that time, we can become our own worst critic or our own source of praise. Often times, the role that we take in our internal reflection comes to light through the resolutions that are made at the turn of each new year.


It is said that the setting of New Year’s resolutions originated some 4,000 years ago (Pruitt, 2018). An estimated 50% of US adults set New Year’s resolutions each year (Herrick, 2020). Yet only 10% of goal setters stick to them before setting them aside just a few months later, like now. (Herrick, 2020).


Why might that be? If we are going to engage in setting forth a goal of growth and possibly healing, why are we struggling to keep these goals? Are we lacking purpose or desire? Or are we possibly lacking the composition of a SMART goal?


The use of the word SMART is not eluding to the utilization of intelligence. Rather, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (Smart Goals).


Specific – Often times goals set forth are too vague. By being as precise as possible with wording and intention, you will remember exactly what it is you are wishing to work towards.


Measurable – If we set a goal that states that we wish to read more throughout the year, we are missing a way to accurately assess our progress. By stating that we would like to read 10 books in the next year, we are better able to monitor our work as the year goes on.


Attainable – Is the goal we have in mind possible and realistic? Will it be realistic if we consider what our own personal best looks like given the tools we have? Not meeting our own goals can feel crushing, defeating. By creating attainable goals, we are more likely to engage in our goals rather than feel inundated by them.


Relevant – Why is the goal and its result important to you? How does this goal align with other goals that you have set forth? Ensuring that your goals are worthwhile, match your wants and needs, and are taking place at an appropriate time will help to increase your engagement in following through with them.


Timely – Creating a target date allows you to assess your progress through yet another avenue. However, be sure to set forth a time bound goal that is true to your abilities and lifestyle.


So, as we reflect on the last few months of keeping up our goals, remember to exercise self-compassion in your goal setting and be SMART with your goals should you reset and alter any goals in your future.



Herrick, C. (2020, January 16). Why we make (and break) New Year’s resolutions, and 4 Tips to help you achieve your goals. Western Connecticut Health Network. https://www.westernconnecticuthealthnetwork.org/newsroom/article-listing/new-years-resolutions#:~:text=Summary%3A,more%20than%20a%20few%20months.

Pruitt, S. (2018, August 31). The history of New Year’s resolutions. History. https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions

Smart goals: a how to guide. University of California. https://med.stanford.edu/content/dam/sm/s-spire/documents/How-to-write-SMART-Goals-v2.pdf

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