New Year, New Start: Goal Setting Tips

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The new year is here! We often find ourselves starting the new year by making resolutions hoping that the new habit sticks with us every day for as long as possible. But unfortunately, most of these resolutions are forgotten within a month or two. Do you remember seeing a packed gym in January or February and then slowly as the year passes by the gym gets less crowded?

Instead of making a resolution, setting a new Goal is a better alternative as goals help us progress towards a gradual positive change rather than expecting to change immediately.

Differences Between Resolution and Goals


  • Rigid/ stays the same – e.g.: “I will exercise regularly.”; “I will go to bed early.”; “I will stop eating sugar.”
  • It can be very overwhelming if you are trying to make a big change.
  • Many times when resolutions are broken you can feel like a failure and give it up altogether.
  • If resolutions seem difficult to carry out you may drop it altogether.


  • Goals are more fluid and can be tackled in steps starting with small steps and then increase in difficulty as you get more accustomed to change.
  • Can be more realistic as they allow you to work through them slowly and steadily.
  • Working through baby steps gives you a sense of accomplishment and keeps you motivated.
  • If you face difficulty in accomplishing a set goal, you can still adjust the goal to a lower intensity or even pick a different new behavior to achieve the same result.

So we know that setting a goal is better than setting a resolution, so how do we set good goals? Below are a few tips to set a SMART goal.

How to Set SMART Goals

  1. Specific: The more specific and intentional you are in setting a goal, the more likely it will be met. Instead of a general goal such as “I want to lose weight.”, be more specific of how much weight you want to lose.
  2. Measurable: Have a way to measure your progress by using tracking tools such as daily or weekly logs of your new/changed behavior to help you move closer to your goal.
  3. Attainable: Set goals that are challenging but not too extreme. Set yourself up for success with small achievable goals.
  4. Realistic: Set goals that matter to you the most and that can be embedded in your daily schedules the easiest way.
  5. Timely: You must have a time-cap for every goal that you set. This practice will help you hold accountability to your goal.

Tips for Setting a Goal:

  • Break down your long terms goals into smaller realistic goals and work on them while keeping your future goal in mind.
  • Choose specific behaviors to achieve your broad goals but also be open to change the specific behaviors if you find yourself stuck or unmotivated.
  • Set goals that add a behavior rather than stopping a behavior. For example, instead of making a goal to eat less junk food, focus on eating more real foods such as fruits and vegetables. Adding something good will subconsciously make you feel much better than the feeling of depriving yourself of something you like.
  • Use reminders, daily planners, or sticky notes to put it in a place where you can see/access it every day to help you create new habits. In addition, assign a time each day to practice this new habit.
  • Do not forget to reward yourself every time you achieve small milestones until you reach a time where your progress becomes your reward.

For more on goal setting, click here for a short video.

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