How to level-up your New Year's resolutions

Many of us find ourselves caught in the annual ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. Full of optimism, we are certain that this will be the year that we can stick to our resolution to go to the gym, learn a new language, or make more time for ourselves. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm often runs out by mid-February, leaving us saying to ourselves 'Oh well, we'll try again next year.'


One of the tools I use when working with clients around goal setting is SMART goals, an acronym I picked up many years ago when I was doing business studies. SMART goals ensure that any goal set is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using this acronym in goal setting can help a person transform vague ambitions into concrete and achievable targets. 

How to create SMART resolutions


Begin by crafting your resolution with precision. A generic goal to “get healthier” is way less useful to you than a specific goal of “attend two yoga classes per week” or “replace sugary snacks with fresh fruits daily.” Adding these specifics helps you to define actionable steps, increasing the likelihood of success.


Create resolutions that are quantifiable to track your progress. Instead of aiming to “get stronger”, set a measurable target like “Be able to squat my body weight in six months.” This helps you to have something to work towards and also lets you celebrate incremental victories along the way, reinforcing your commitment and motivation.


Dream big, but make sure your goals are within reach. Unrealistic resolutions can set you up for disappointment. Aiming to “run a marathon by March” when you’ve never jogged a mile might be too ambitious. Consider a more achievable goal like “run a 5k by May” to build momentum gradually.


Align your resolutions with your values and priorities. If your heart isn’t in it, your chances of success diminish. Whether it’s a career goal, health improvement, or personal development, ensure your resolutions resonate with your overall life objectives.


Assign deadlines to your resolutions to create a sense of urgency. A goal without a timeframe can easily fall victim to procrastination. For instance, replace “learn a new language” with “converse comfortably in French within six months.” This time-bound approach adds structure to your aspirations.

How to stay motivated

Ok, so now you’ve created your SMART resolution, how do you make sure you see it through? I have some tips for you here.

1. Address potential roadblocks

Even with the best of intentions, life sometimes gets in the way. A schedule change may mean that your original goal of attending the gym three times a week is difficult. So an alternative could be to walk home instead of taking the bus or swap out the hour-long gym sessions for 30-minute home workouts. 

2. Build a support system

Share your resolutions with someone. Whether it’s a friend or colleague at work, sharing the resolution helps to create a sense of accountability, and also provides you with cheerleaders. Trust me, they are invaluable when your motivation levels are low.

3. Reflect on your progress

Regularly assess your achievements and setbacks. Self-reflection is important when going through a process of change. Adjust your approach as needed, learning from both successes and failures and remember, it's ok if you fail sometimes.

4. Celebrate milestones

Acknowledge and celebrate your successes, regardless of size. This positive reinforcement contributes to the sustainability of your resolutions. Whether it’s treating yourself to a small reward or sharing your accomplishments with loved ones, these milestones are essential markers of progress and will help you stay the course.

Embarking on a journey of self-improvement requires dedication, but with SMART goals and these tips, you possess a robust framework for success. As we welcome the dawn of a new year, seize this opportunity to transform your resolutions into lasting achievements.

Let 2024 be the year you achieve the goal you have set, and bring your aspirations to fruition with intention and purpose. Remember, the path to change isn't always smooth, but every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

If you are curious to know how you can use therapy to set and stick to resolutions or any goal you want to achieve, I can help you. Contact me to find out more.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London N1 & E8
Written by Roxanne Black, Integrative counsellor and psychotherapist PgDip, MBACP
London N1 & E8

Roxanne is an integrative counsellor and psychotherapist who journeys with the enduringly curious, helping them to find their voice, articulate their needs, and push through the boundaries preventing them from being their best selves. Book a consultation to learn more.

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