The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that there is not much resolve in the people who make them. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” There is no barrier to entry for making a New Year’s resolution, anyone who means well can make them.

Therein lies the problem, it is often said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or as Mark Twain once said, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” If you have nothing invested in them to begin with, there is an almost absolute certainty that nothing will come of them.

My newer clients often tell me they will send me their New Year’s resolutions and I always tell them not to bother. However, I do tell them if they would like to send me their goals for the new year, I would be happy to help them formulate a plan geared toward achieving them. A resolution that is lacking steps to get there is like going on a trip to a new place without any directions. I have yet to hear a New Year’s resolution with a plan.

I like to use “S.M.A.R.T” goals with my clients. S is for specific. Let’s say you want to become a better free throw shooter next season. M is for measurable. I’m going to shoot 100 extra free throws and visualize shooting another 100 everyday. A is for achievable. This means is it under your control? In this case it is, so we’ll move on. R is for realistic. This means if you follow the plan is it likely to provide the results you want. T is for time-bound. Goals are just dreams that have a time line. Every goal needs a completion date.

Once you have your S.M.A.R.T goal, you are equipped with a plan of action to help lead you to its fruition. Author F.M. Knowles once said “He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool.” So why don’t you abandon your New Year’s resolutions this year and replace them with S.M.A.R.T goals.

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