Setting Yourself Up for Success: Advice for Making and Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

December 30, 2014
Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

With 2014 drawing to a close, many of us are starting to think about the changes we’d like to see in our lives in the coming year. And although not all of us will formally resolve to improve our physical, mental, or emotional health in 2015, making thoughtful changes can help reduce our stress levels, gain confidence, discover new interests, or find greater meaning in life.

But what makes the difference between falling back into our old habits and making a lasting change in our lives?  

Be SMART about your goals

SMART is a commonly used framework that helps people set realistic and reachable goals. According to the SMART method, goals must be:

Specific. This means you not only need to figure out what you will do but also why and how you’ll do it. By having a specific goal in mind you’ll know exactly what is required to achieve it. Do you want to lose a certain amount of weight? Quit smoking? Reconnect with specific friends or family members? Go back to work or school? Save money? Start a new hobby? Setting specific goals, whether big or small, and working toward achieving them can benefit many different areas of your life.

Measureable. For example, if you want to save more money, then a measurable goal would be to put $20 into a savings account every week. This is an action you can track to see whether you are achieving your goal.

Attainable. A goal is attainable if restrictions like your schedule, workload, or knowledge are not likely to be major obstacles. For example, it would probably not be the best idea to set a goal to lose 15 pounds in two weeks. Goals should be challenging but not unreachable.

Relevant. Your goal should fit into the bigger picture you have for your life and align with your personal values.

Timely. Your goal should have a clear start and end date to keep you motivated. “Someday” or “soon” won’t work. Creating a realistic timeframe will set things in motion so you can begin to accomplish your goals.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Think long-term or short, personal or professional—just keep things SMART. So, what do you want to achieve in 2015? Let us know using the comments section below or tweet us @CancerDotNet.