The Art of New Year Goal Setting, Not Resolutions

Health and Wellness

Why We Should Avoid New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s discuss New Year goal setting… As the New Year approaches people are focused on making resolutions, not goals. These are generally habits they will try to achieve every day, or try to avoid for as long as they can. Unfortunately, many people find it difficult to stick to their resolutions and the desire to change fizzles within weeks. A major reason for this is that it is quite difficult to develop or deny habits “cold turkey”.

While the effort to adopt a resolution shows great intent, it is much better to develop and set fresh goals for the future. It also helps to work toward your goals gradually than expect an immediate change in habit and behaviors.

According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, a new habit usually takes a little more than 2 months — 66 days to be exact until it’s fully formed.

What is the difference between resolutions and goals? According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. A goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. The former has more rigid thinking around the aim versus the latter which allows for flexibility in thought around the desired result. Resolutions can typically set people up for disappointment, while goals on the other hand, often set you up for success.

A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. A goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”.

Why New Year Goal Setting Is Best

What’s a Good Goal?

Goals provide a sense of direction, motivation, and a clear focus. By setting a goal, you are providing yourself with a target to aim for.

A good goal is one that challenges you to be better, but does not break you or defeat you mentally or physically each time you try to achieve it. If the goal is not realistic it will be too difficult to accomplish.

How Can I Make Realistic Goals?

Try to make realistic goals that pertain to you, not someone else. Goals are sustainable if they are personal to you.

Use SMART Goals to Guide You:

What are SMART Goals?

A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, the SMART method will help focus your efforts, which in turn will increase the chances of achieving your ambitions.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely


Goals that are specific have a greater chance of being accomplished. To make your target specific, the five “W” questions must be considered:

  1. Who: Who is involved in this?
  2. What: What do I want to accomplish?
  3. Where: Where will this be achieved?
  4. When: When do I want to achieve this?
  5. Why: Why do I want to achieve this?


A SMART goal must have criteria for measuring progress. If there are no criteria, you will not be able to measure your progress and know if you are on the right track to reaching your target. To make your goal measurable, ask yourself:

  1. How many/much?
  2. How will I know if I have reached it?
  3. How can I measure my progress?


A SMART goal must be achievable and attainable. The achievability of the goal should be challenging enough, but defined so that you can actually achieve it. Ask yourself:

  1. Do I have the resources and the capacity to achieve this? If not, what am I missing?
  2. Have others been able to achieve this before?


A SMART goal must be realistic. In other words, it can be achieved given the resources and time available to you. A SMART goal is likely realistic if you believe you will be able to achieve it. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this realistic?
  2. Is this reachable, given the time and resources?
  3. Can you commit to achieving this?


A SMART goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date. If there is no time frame to your New Year goal setting, there will be no urgency and thus little motivation to work toward that goal. Ask yourself:

  1. Does my goal have a deadline?
  2. What is the timeline to achieving my goal?

Example of How To Create Smart Goals:

  • General goal: I would like to lose weight.
  • Example SMART goal:
  1. Specific: I want to eat out less by meal prepping and cooking to better manage my weight.
  2. Measurable:  I will shop for groceries on Saturday in order to have the food to prep the meals on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
  3. Timely: I will start December 1st and end December 31st
  4. Make sure that this goal is Achievable and Realistic.

The Importance of SMART Goal Setting

Often, people will set themselves up for failure by setting general and unrealistic goals such as “I want to be the best at X.” This goal is vague, with no clear direction.

SMART goals set you up for success by making goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The SMART method gives you direction, and helps you organize and reach your goals.

Remember, setting achievable and realistic goals that are measurable will definitely help you achieve the results you desire. Always keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and take small steps every day to achieve them. Once they are done repetitively, they become a habit and not so difficult to continue on a regular basis. Remember to reward yourself with something small for continuing to stick with it, until you have made enough progress towards your goal that the progress becomes its own reward.

Change does not happen overnight, but as you work towards developing what is important to you, the change will come and it will be lasting. This is key as you enjoy building the life you were meant to live!

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you manage your weight peacefully without the diets, please visit my Services page.

Voula Manousos’ writing is featured in the “Winchester Living Magazine” and “The Winchester Star” of Wicked Local.

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