Top 10 New Years Resolutions and How to Keep Them

Make Smart New Years Resolutions  photo credit Ping Tag

The US government reports that, according to surveys, the top 10 New Year's resolutions are (in no particular order):

  1. Find a better job.
  2. Lose weight and get in shape.
  3. Quit smoking and/or drinking
  4. Participate in more fun activities.
  5. Deal with debt and save more money.
  6. Learn new things.
  7. Travel.
  8. Seek additional education or training.
  9. Reduce stress
  10. Volunteer
Those are the most common New Year's resolutions according to the government. However, it's one thing to make a resolution, another thing to keep one. Here are some tips on keeping New Year's resolutions using the SMART principles of time management.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time line

It is used in business to get things done and keep projects moving. SMART goals translate very well to New Years Resolutions.

Most of the top 10 New Year's resolutions are doomed to fail before the clock strikes twelve at midnight precisely because they are not SMART. How will you find a better job? How will you lose weight? Detailing the action items of a resolution makes success more likely and the SMART method can help. For each New Years resolution answer the following five questions to create a SMART New Year's resolution:

1.How will you achieve your goal exactly? No step is too small to list. It also helps to put key information such as phone numbers, addresses, websites etc... with each step so you can hit the ground running come January 1.

2.How will you measure your goal? When will you know you've made it? Weight loss uses a scale, but other goals might use school grades or peer recognition as a measure of success. It's also a good ideal to build in goal check points such as, re-assessing every month and fine tuning the action items for your goal.

3.Is the goal attainable? In other words, is this really possible? World peace is probably too much to ask for, but learning about non-violent communication and using it in your life is possible (and laudable).

4.Is the goal realistic? This goes along with #3, is the goal doable? Is the goal within your means? For example, volunteering sounds nice but may be difficult if you're working two jobs, going to school and caring for a family. Set yourself up for success with goals that are realistic with regards to your personal circumstances.

5.What is the time line? A deadline keeps you accountable. You want to quit smoking? Okay. When exactly? This goes back to #1, be specific. Look at the difference between these two statements to see SMART in action:

Suzy Q. says, "In 2010, I will quit smoking."

Whereas Jane Doe says, "In 2010, I will quit smoking on January 2nd when I will also call the doctor about smoking cessation support and medication for stopping smoking. While waiting for my doctor's appointment I will research which medications might help me and what kind of support I want."

Who do you think is more likely to be successful keeping New Year's resolutions? Suzy Q? Or Jane Doe? Jane Doe clearly has a plan in place and knows what she needs to do. SMART goals force you to have a plan and encourage follow through, which are the keys to a successful New Year's resolution.

So, have a Happy New Year and be SMART about your New Years resolutions this year.