Part 2: New Years Resolutions: How to Set Personalized Goals


Well, we are two weeks into 2015 and this is the time where most resolutions start to waiver and fall off the priority list. This is NORMAL! Now is a great time to re-evaluate your goals or be more strategic about how you approach these goals. This not the time to quit!

Step #1: Do I Even Need to Change?

Sometimes people set goals for reasons external to themselves. People want them to change, society portrays what perfection “should” be or you may have a lack of self-acceptance. Goals need to come from a personal need to shift unhealthy habits to healthy ones or to build on previous success.

Ask yourself…

Am I setting goals that reflect what I want?

Step #2: How to Set Achievable Personalized Goals

SMARTGoals should be realistic and personalized. Realistic does not mean easy or lacking creativity, passion or a dream, but you need to be able to achieve them. Start with a large outcome goal, break it down in to achievable phases using the philosophy that sustainable change is best achieved in small increments. Essentially, sneak up on yourself slowly starting with changes that are minimal, that you hardly notice discomfort, and build upon success. Below is a strategy for setting goals that are well thought out and achieveable.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals


Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do.

*What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?


Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Usually, the entire goal statement is a measure for the project, but there are usually several short-term or smaller measurements built into the goal.

*How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached (list at least two indicators)?


Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them. You must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal.

*Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal? Will meeting the goal challenge you without defeating you?


Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.

*What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result (not the activities leading up to the result) of the goal?

Time Bound

Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without such tension, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome.

*What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?


 Always ask yourself throughout the goal timeframe…

Do I need to revise this goal?

Step #3: Build the Change into a Habit

After all the hard work you put in to making changes in your life, you want those changes to stick around awhile. Try incorporating some of the following strategies in the attempt to build sustainable healthy habits:

  • Start small. Willpower is like a muscle and gets worn out if you push it too hard.

  • Do it every day. Irregular schedules undermine success. This is another reason to start small.

  • Anchor it to another established routine as a trigger or reminder. If you find that your high energy/productive time in the day is afternoon, use this time to complete the new goal tasks.

  • Build up slowly once you are confident your first small step is in place. Whether it is exercise, study habits or another personal development goal, start small in terms of time spent on the new behaviour.

  • Break it down into realistic bites: If you want be able to add exercise to your life, 3 times per week, start with incorporating one visit per week to the gym and build up.

  • Accept slipups with self compassion. Everyone slips up. Don’t criticize yourself, but get back on the horse again as soon as possible. Expect to slip ups. It is important to just head in the direction of the goal and not use progress as the only measure of success.

Be patient and stick to a pace you can sustain. Habits are hard to form and following all these tips sets you up for success. Moving too quickly, sets you up to fail.


Next Week: 

Part 3: New Years Resolutions: Using Your Personality Temperament to Increase Motivation

I would love to hear from you!


Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.

Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through


Remember…Adversity has the effect of revealing talents in people, which under easier circumstances may never have been realized.

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