Here are some tips to make New Year resolutions that are achievable and satisfying. One top tip is to make your resolutions SMART.

Your resolution might be the rather vague "I want to get fit" which is, in all likelihood, doomed to fail because you haven't worded it in the right way. Think about the following points:

How do you define "being fit?" Is it walking five minutes outside the house a day, half a mile a day, swimming, lifting weights? Are you going to do this daily? Weekly? If you are too vague it is difficult to measure progress and so, all too soon, you are likely to give up.

It is helpful to answer five "W" questions when trying to be specific:

Who: Who is involved in this goal?

What: What do I want to achieve? Be very specific about how much you'll do of whatever activity is your goal.

Where: Where will I work on this goal? Identify a location gather any information you might need e.g about gyms, swimming pools, health clubs etc.

When: When will I work on this goal? Establish a time frame.

Why: Why do I want to work on this goal? (Identify your deeper values as to WHY you want to get fit – maybe it is so you can play with your grandchild, or attend a course. If you are clear about the WHY of your resolution then you are much more likely to achieve it.

A specific short-term goal would be "I will join a health club and swim for ten minutes three times a week in order to get fitter".


It is important to choose a goal where you can measure your progress. In this sense it needs to be concrete and tangible. Say your goal is "I want to be less dominated by my pain and have a better quality of life". Again this is far too vague. A measurable goal might be something like "I will go to the cinema twice in the next month as a way of improving my quality of life and being less dominated by the pain". You can then measure very clearly at the end of the month if you have managed to follow through this intention or not.


Ideally a short-term goal should stretch you slightly, but should still be within your abilities, skills and financial capacity. For example, if you want to lose weight, it is foolish to say "I will lose 20 lbs in one week". This is neither achievable nor healthy. Setting a goal of "I will lose 1lb a week for six weeks" is much more achievable and sensible.


Realistic is not another word for easy! Rather it means that we should choose short-term goals that are meaningful, sensible, achievable, and appropriate. By appropriate I mean relevant to your financial means, your age, your family situation, your health and so on. The goal needs to be realistic for you at the moment. If you make a goal to never eat anything sweet whatsoever, when you are a person with a very sweet tooth, then this is not realistic! A more realistic goal would be to replace one sweet item a day with a piece of fruit for two weeks, and then to gradually phase out cakes and chocolate progressively by setting new goals every two weeks in this way.

A realistic goal is one that you are both are willing and able to work towards. This is important. You have to be both motivated to achieve any goal you set and capable of achieving it practically. Often we can fail at goals because of either lack of motivation or practical problems.


Set a timeframe for your goal! This is very important. By setting an endpoint to your goal then you have a clear target to work towards. It will also provide motivation and keep you on track. If you don't set a clear time limit, then you don't have a way of monitoring your achievements, nor have a motivation to start! Simply saying "I will join a gym" means you can easily get away with continually putting it off till next week. But if you say "I will join a gym by this Saturday and then I will go and swim 10 lengths three times a week and review after one month" then you have a very specific, time bound goal that will be both easier to achieve and measure.

By using these SMART guidelines you should find it easier to identify goals that you will succeed at.

Vidyamala Burch