How SMART can help you keep your New Year's Resolutions

Life has been busy for Michelle Mooney with her two youngest children, Luna, an infant, and Logan, a toddler, just 15 months apart in age. (Heather Simonsen, KSL-TV)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Do you feel like you're already falling short on New Year's resolutions? You're in good company. One in three Utahns won't keep those goals past the end of January, experts said.

Here's how to do better.

In life, there are intentions and there's reality. "Not great," said Michelle Mooney, who lives in Eagle Mountain. She wants to start a home crafting business.

"Usually, I'm super gung-ho for about a couple weeks, maybe a couple months, and it just fizzles out," she said.

With her two youngest children just 15 months apart, some things, like her vinyl cutter, just have to wait.

"That has never come out of the box," Mooney said. "My husband bought it for me in the Christmas of 2020, so it's been sitting around a little bit gathering dust. I felt like once I opened it, there was no going back, and I didn't want to fail."

But it doesn't have to be that way, said Dr. Travis Mickelson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Intermountain Healthcare. "We're not coming up with a strategy in which we're going to be effective," he said.

He recommends following the acronym: SMART, first coined by the journal Management Review in 1981.

First, be Specific. Your resolution should be clear. "Rather than saying, 'I want to start exercising,' we would say, 'I want to start exercising 20 minutes a day, three times a week,'" he said.

Make goals Measurable. Logging progress in a journal or making notes on your phone can help.

Choose intentions that are Achievable. Taking big steps too fast can leave you frustrated. "Start small, bite-sized pieces," Mickelson said. "We'll be more successful with that."

Keep resolutions Relevant. Set goals that really matter to you. "One of the most powerful rewards for our brain is just a frequent reminder of why we're doing this. And really providing us with that encouragement," Mickelson said.

Finally, goals should be Time-bound. Make a realistic timeline, planning for roadblocks along the way.

Mooney realized there will be setbacks. This time she started with a plan. "Instead of thinking about everything that I'm going to have to do over the next year, just taking it one step at a time," she said.

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Heather Simonsen


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