How to Set a SMART New Year's Resolution for 2023 - Dr. Amanda Aster-McKenna, Psy.D in Montclair, NJ
3... 2... 1... Happy New Year!
As the holiday season is winding down, and we are entering into the new year, many of us have the intention of setting “New Year’s Resolutions.” How many of us, however, have gone full speed the first two weeks of January at changing our behavior to reach our goal, only to fall back into old patterns of behavior shortly thereafter? In this month’s newsletter, I am going to give you some tips and tricks on not only how to initiate behavior change, but also how to maintain and sustain it.
Determine Your "Why"
First things first: what is your WHY factor? Why make this resolution now? What is important about making this behavior change? How could achieving this goal, or set of goals, increase your quality of life? Is it in the service of your Physical Health/Self-Care? Family? Friends/Social Life? Intimate Relationships? Community? Spirituality? Work? Education/Training? Recreation/Fun? It’s much easier for us to take action on our goals when they are aligned with what we value and care about most.
Set a New Year's Resolution with a SMART Goal
Next, many of us set grandiose goals that sound great in theory, yet in reality, they may not be that easily attainable, reasonable, or realistic. To narrow down your New Year’s Resolution, it’s helpful to break your goals down into specific steps using the S.M.A.R.T. goal acronym:
S: Specific - What do you want to achieve? What does your goal involve? What are you trying to accomplish? When and why do you want to make this goal happen? Look out for any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching our goal, and make plan to overcome them.
M: Measurable - Break your New Year’s goal setting into bite-size chunks. Give yourself daily, weekly, and monthly steps to take. Focus on those, and when you accomplish one, tackle the next one. Some questions to ask yourself are: “How long will it take to reach my goal?”, “How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?”
A: Achievable/Adaptive - Is it possible? Is this goal likely to improve your life in some way?
R: Realistic - Is it realistic? Consider the following factors: time, finances, health, resources, social support, skills
T: Timely - It’s important to set a time limit – because you need a finish line! Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down into daily activities, then give yourself a deadline. Planners can be a really helpful tool here – they’ll help you manage your schedule, grow as a person, and crush your goals – no matter what they are.
"A Year From Now, You May Wish You Had Started Today." -Karen Lamb
Once you have a set plan with concrete actionable steps to reach your goal that is in line with your values, then next step is to take action. If necessary, you can break your goal down into smaller steps by asking yourself “What is the smallest, easiest step that I can begin with?”
Research demonstrates that if you make a public commitment to your goal, such as sharing your goal to a friend, partner, loved one, coworker, etc., then you are much more likely to follow through with it. If you are not willing to do this, then at the very least, make a commitment to yourself. Try it out by filling in the blank:
I commit to [write your values-guided SMART goal here]:
Give Yourself Grace - You Can Do It!
I hope these tips and tricks work in your favor to begin and/or restart acting in important ways in line with your values! Please remember that we are only human and fully capable of error, so if you find yourself veering off course, this is not an indication that you are not capable of achieving your goal. Rather, this is an opportunity for you to practice grace, forgiveness, and compassion with yourself, and to gently guide yourself back on track.
Follow Me on Social Media For More Tips!
With all that said, Happy New Year everyone! May 2023 be your best year yet!
By the way, if you feel that have gotten any value from these monthly newsletters, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn where I share more tips, tricks, guides, and updates several times per week. I would really appreciate the help as I continue growing and creating change through courage, compassion, and connection with others!
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*Peace, Love, & Fierce Acceptance*
Dr. Amanda Aster-McKenna, Psy.D.
NJ Licensed Psychologist #5888, Private Practice, Montclair, NJ
Adjunct Professor, Kean University, Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Manager, New York City Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science
Board Member, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris