Business & Society

Ask an Expert — SMART Goals for the New Year

By Emma Parkhurst |

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution, such as, “I want to be more active,” or “I want to spend less time on my phone,” yet you struggle to follow through? One reason for the struggle could be that the resolution needs to be more specific.

Setting goals can be challenging, so instead of making it harder on yourself by having them be too vague, get SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Guiding your resolutions can help you succeed.

An example of a SMART goal, from the director of Pitt’s Teen and Young Adult Lab, could be, “To check social media less often, I will set a timer for 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening and will only scroll social media during those times. I will turn off my phone notifications so I’m not tempted to check. I’ll try this for five days, check in with how it’s going, and update my goal if necessary.”

Another strategy for successful resolutions is to keep them more growth- or progress-focused rather than being tied to failure or success. Consider these tips to set goals that work best for you.

  • Find your why. Goals should be personally driven, not based on what you think anyone else wants for you. Tap into your values to understand what matters most, and use goals to align your efforts.
  • Don’t set too many goals. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, focus on just one to two goals at a time.
  • Celebrate your successes. Celebrate even minor changes in the right direction and be proud of the person you are becoming. Small steps are better than none.
  • Consider a support system. Tell someone close to you about the changes you are trying to make and ask for their encouragement and support. You might even find an accountability buddy to join you.

Setting goals is a great way to bring about changes. But remember, it is also important to celebrate the many good things about yourself rather than only focusing on what you want to change.

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Emma Parkhurst
Professional Practice Assistant Professor


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