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Using SMART Goals to Help Achieve Your New Year’s Intentions

by Lindsay Warriner, MA, P-LPC, P-CST

Self-growth is a beautiful, and sometimes daunting, endeavor. The New Year is a popular time when many of us focus on that self-expansion and set new intentions for ourselves. However, sometimes those ambitions don’t always go as planned. And it’s not because we’re incapable, it may just be a matter of not having the right tools to help us reach those goals. That’s why I’d love to share SMART goals with you. SMART is an acronym that can assist us in creating clear-cut goals, which in turn can increase the potential of us accomplishing those goals. So, let’s break it down: 

S stands for Specific. When outlining your goal, try to be as specific as possible. Some good questions to ask yourself are: 

  • What am I going to do? 

  • How am I going to do it?

  • Can I add any more details? 

M stands for Measurable. The best way to keep account of ourselves is by making our goal trackable. Some good questions to ask yourself are: 

  • How will I measure this goal? 

  • Do I need any additional supplies to help me track my goal? 

A stands for Attainable. Take some time to reflect and be honest with yourself. Some good questions to ask yourself are: 

  • How realistic is it for me to accomplish this goal? 

  • How can I adjust this goal to make it more attainable? 

R stands for Relevant. Following our goals requires time and effort, so it’s helpful to consider how this goal fits into your life. Some questions to ask yourself are: 

  • How important is this goal to me? 

  • How does this goal align with my values? 

  • Does this goal align with other larger goals I’ve been aiming towards? 

T stands for Time-Bound. This is where accountability comes into play. Some good questions to ask yourself are: 

  • How long will I need to complete this goal?

  • By when do I want to accomplish this goal or reach a certain level of sustainability? 

  • What are other things in my life that may affect this timeline? How can I adjust for those things? 

Here’s an example of a SMART goal to give you a detailed representation of this tool in action. 

General Goal: I want to drink more water. 

Specific: I want to drink 3 liters of water a day. I am going to do this by trying to always have a water bottle with me. 

Measurable: I will measure this goal in a notebook by keeping track of my water intake. My favorite water bottle holds 30 ounces of water. There are about 33 ounces of water in a liter. So, I need to finish my water bottle about 3 and a half times a day. 

Attainable: Well, to be honest with myself, I get through about one water bottle a day right now. Therefore, it might not be super realistic for me to start out by drinking 3 water bottles a day. I will start with drinking two water bottles a day until I get consistent at that. Then I’ll aim for two and a half, then three, and so on. 

Relevant: This goal is very important to me. I have been getting headaches due to my lack of water intake. On top of that, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of my top values. 

Time-Bound: I would like to see myself consistently drinking three and a half water bottles a day three months from now, April 1st. That gives me time to slowly increase my water intake at a rate that doesn’t feel overwhelming. 

As you can see, SMART goals are a great way to help us focus, be specific, and hold ourselves accountable. My hope is that you can use this tool to help you accomplish your New Year’s intentions. You deserve it! 

Lastly, as a friendly reminder, you are still human. It’s okay to struggle even when using this tool. It’s okay to adjust, take a break, or whatever else you need. So, remember to use some self-love and acceptance on your journey towards self-growth this year. 



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