Ahhh New Year’s Eve.  Champagne, confetti poppers, and resolutions….

It’s the last day of the year and many people are putting together their list of resolutions.

Pop quiz: what did you resolve to do or not do in 2010?  Any idea?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Most of us wouldn’t.  It’s not that resolutions aren’t a good idea.  Everyone likes a fresh start and resolutions are the grown-up version of a do over.  But I have a few issues with them.

Personally, making that list of resolutions always makes me feel like I didn’t try my hardest or do my best this year.  And I’d like to think that I always put my entire self into everything I do.  So just the act of creating a resolution means that I am admitting I fell short. I may not have accomplished everything I wanted to, but you can be sure I gave it my all.

The other thing is that a year is a very long time, and why do we feel like we can do anything for a year?   These days we’re lucky to keep our attention on something for a few minutes, let alone keep up something hard for 365 days.  Because, let’s face it, if it were easy we’d already be doing it right? No one resolves to watch more television or eat more junk food.  Well, not anyone I’ve ever met… So why set the bar so high that we’re already doomed for failure before we’ve even dipped a toe into the new year?

However, it’s a tradition and many people will be setting their resolutions.  So here’s a challenge to you – why not set yourself up for success this year?

Rather than resolutions, which by their very nature sounds negative, I prefer to set goals. But you can’t just list off a bunch of goals and be done with it – there are guidelines for setting goals.  You may have heard of “SMART” which is an acronym that helps direct the creation of appropriate goals.

S – Specific

This might seem obvious, but you have to drill down into the goal to make it specific enough.  Don’t just say “I’m going to eat better” or “I will be a safer driver.” Instead specify that you will “Eat more whole foods and no fried foods” or “not text while driving the car.”

M – Measurable

A unit of measure gives you something to ensure you’re moving the dial towards your goal.  “I will give 10% of my earnings to charity” or “I will lose 25 pounds.”  But make sure you measure is…

A – Attainable

You can’t be expected to meet a goal that is impossible for you to reach.  So be realistic with your goals.  If you haven’t got a creative bone in your body, don’t plan your goals around becoming the next Picasso.  Do not set yourself up for failure before you’ve even started!

R – Realistic

This sounds a lot like “attainable” but it’s a different flavor of it. Maybe you’re barely scraping by and that 10% donation will get you in the poorhouse – and maybe donating your time would be a better option.

T – Time sensitive

The obvious answer to this might be “By the end of the year” but let’s not boil the ocean.  Split your time into manageable chunks and continuously measure your progress at the end of each interval.  If your goal is to lose 25 pounds, then you should theoretically be able to measure a loss of 2 pounds per month, or a half a pound each week.  You can’t approach your goals like a student with a research paper due the next day.  There’s no cramming in real life.

So it ends up being much more optimistic and refreshing sounding, doesn’t it?  My challenge to you is to set your SMART goals and continuously track your progress against them.  Maybe this time next year you won’t be racking your brain trying to remember what you resolved to do…because you forgot about those resolutions before the popped confetti ever hits the floor.