A Checklist for Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions

When we set New Year’s resolutions, we often forget to take enough time to make sure we’re setting goals we can really meet.

Sure, “lose weight” sounds like a good goal, but it’s actually too vague to be easy achieved.

Instead, use this checklist to help you set SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Actionable, Measurable, Realistic and Timely. 

A Checklist for Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions

What is Your Goal?

☐ Start by setting one overall goal e.g. “to lose weight”

☐ Next, write down a more specific figure for this goal e.g. “to lose 20 lbs”

☐ To get even more motivated, think about why you want to meet this goal – for example, to feel more confident, to have more energy to play with your kids etc.


When Will You Achieve It?

☐ Now it’s time to set a date by which you need to achieve your goal. Remember, this needs to be realistic e.g. “lose 10 lbs by March”

☐ Next, divide your goal by how much time you have left e.g. “lose 1 lb per week from now until the end of April”

This will give you healthy, attainable milestones. Tracking and celebrating each milestone like this will make it much more likely that you’ll see success!


How Will You Achieve It?

☐ Now is the time to consider if you need anything else to help you achieve your goal, such as new equipment, or if you need the help of anyone else, such as a workout buddy or an exercise class.

☐ You also need to figure out how you’re going to make time in your schedule. Be specific here – an example could be deciding to wake up 30 minutes earlier each day or walking to work instead of driving to get more exercise.

☐ It might help to list out every single step here – e.g. you’ll start by signing up for the gym and then you’ll go to the gym 3 days per week or walk to work 2 days per week.


Record Your Progress

☐ Now that you’ve got a concrete goal, note down how things currently are. If you want to lose weight, weigh and measure yourself and take a photograph as evidence. If you want to stop smoking, note down how many you smoke per day now.

☐ Every week, update your progress journal (this can be a simple notebook). It really does make a difference when you track your progress and see that things are improving, even if slowly!

☐ If it helps, come up with a reward system. E.g. after 4 weeks of working out according to your schedule, you’ll buy yourself some new clothes you’ve had your eye on.


All of this might seem like overkill for setting a simple New Year’s Resolution, but it really isn’t! Unfortunately, the majority of New Year’s Resolutions never last beyond a few days in January. Following this checklist is how you’ll make sure yours sees it through to the finish line!

I actually started my goal making last year. I decided to get serious about losing weight and living healthier. Rather than try to change my entire lifestyle at once, I’m making baby steps to make sure these changes stick. Resolutions aren’t about trying to do everything at once… but rather small steps to a big chance.


  1. I am going to pin this as I have to do more detailed goals–however I have a linky that runs to the end of the month on my blog today about goals. A group of us posted today about setting goals! I would love it if you linked up!

    1. Glad to hear this checklist will help you dig deeper into your goals. And thanks for the heads up about the party. I linked in!

  2. This is a great post for how to make New Year Resolutions. Thanks!

  3. Ashley Miller says:

    I really appreciate you sharing this! I was just telling my husband this morning that we need to get some resolutions set up and actually attempt to reach the goals this year for once. I am saving this for reference! =)

    1. Awesome. I hope it’s helpful 🙂 I actually used this strategy to kick off my weight loss goals. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  4. Great list and a very smart way to achieve them. Great post. Thanks for sharing

  5. Great post and great graphics! I did a blog goal post, but I am going to add a personal one next week. Thanks for some great ideas on how to do it!

  6. md Kennedy says:

    Awesome tips! And useful for any type of goal you may want to set, not just for a New Year’s resolution!

  7. Patricia A. says:

    I stopped making new years resolutions cos I never do them anyway. This is inspiring though. Goodluck!

  8. had to share to my facebook page for future reference and will be pinning and bookmarking too.. cause a grandma can use all the reminders she can get! I love how you broke down the finer points of achieving goals, making them much more attainable. Well, that’s the way it works for me.. but I’ve never put them in writing.. will be doing that this year. I am also planning a vision board to help reinforce and motivate my goals.. will be taking a pic for my phone so I can see it when ever I need some motivation 🙂 GREAT GREAT GREAT TIPS!

  9. I’m not a resolution person but these are great guidelines for those who are! I wish you success on your path!

  10. I do love the SMART approach! And the fact that it spells out “Smart” is just GENIUS! ha! Have you ever thought about the English language though… Why does smart mean, well, smart? lol

    1. Gigi! Thanks. I’m working on making my resolutions stick and approachable. I’ve been slowly losing weight but not trying to kill myself doing it. Rather, turning it into a slow progression so that the changes become just a part of every day life. Sitting down and really working through resolutions I think is the key.

  11. Breaking down the big goal into doable chunks is so important to achieving them! Thanks for the reminder and good luck with your goals!

    1. Thanks, Becky. I actually created these when I was getting serious about losing weight. I’ve dropped 16 pounds so far and am slowly taking it off and keeping it off.

  12. Hi, I’m dropping by from the SITS Sharefest. I have a a lot of goals for 2014, and it’s so important that they are SMART. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I actually created these when I decided to get serious about losing weight. It’s been a slow but positive journey for me…. and you’ll see posts from me at least every other week about how I’m doing 🙂

  13. Love the detailed examples! I will definitely be pinning this and coming back to it!

  14. This is great! So many times New Year’s resolutions are more of an “I want to list”, but making it a concrete goal with smaller attainable goals is what will really help that resolution become a reality! Featuring this on Makeovers & Motherhood’s Welcome Party Wednesday Link-Up today!

    BTW… congratulations on your weight loss! How exciting!

    1. Thanks so much for the feature! And I’m sorry for the late response. We’re on winter break with the kids… which means no break for mama 😉

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