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A-Z Teen Health Glossary

What Are SMART Goals? Can They Help Achieve My New Year’s Resolutions?

Start the New Year Right With Goals - Paradigm Austin

If you are like most people, you start the New Year with good intentions. You made a list of changes you want to make in your life, and you are determined to succeed. SMART goals can help you increase your resolution success.

You set these goals in January, but then March arrives. You have stopped and started your resolutions several times. You’re on a guilt trip to a pity party. You feel like no matter how bad you want to do better and make the right choices, you can’t seem to stick to the plan. You are ready to give up.


It’s not too late to get back on track. In fact, it’s never too late to get back on track if you gain a deep understanding about goals, how to set them, and how they can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.

First, let’s talk about goals.

What is a Goal?

This may seem too simple to mention but for some, they don’t truly know how to define a goal, making it harder to set goals.

A goal is something you want to achieve in a set amount of time. A goal is supported by a commitment you make to stick with your plan of action until you are successful.

The Benefits of Having Goals

When you have goals, you see yourself in the future in a positive light. You have hope. You believe in yourself and that you are capable and deserving of a better life.

Goals can help you overcome fears, improve your emotional wellness and examine your desires and interests. They help you clarify what you value and believe, which can ultimately change your behavior.

This is especially important in recovery.

There are many methods of goal setting but one of the best methods is SMART.

What Are SMART Goals?

The founder of SMART goals, Doran, had a goal of helping leaders, managers and staff of businesses improve success of a company.

What he did not realize is that the SMART goals can be applied personally by those trying to achieve individual goals, even when the goal is recovery from addiction. And when applied correctly, the results are favorable.

SMART is an acronym. Meaning, each letter of the word stands for something.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Realistic

T = Time Bound

We’ll discuss each letter of the acronym and why it is important below.

Start Your New Year With SMART Goals - Paradigm Austin

1. Set SPECIFIC Goals

When you are brainstorming things you want in life, many ideas will flow. You may want to make more money, lose weight, stay sober, get married, and take a vacation.

Those are great goals; they are just not specific. Vague goals allow you to be distracted, letting temptations and impulses steer you off track.

Example of a vague goal: I want to make more money.

Example of a specific goal: I want to become a computer programmer for the government which pays over $100,000 annually.

Think of goals as arrows. Each arrow represents something you want to achieve. You must throw your arrows and stick them on a target. This will give you specific direction and a path to follow.


To know if something is working, you must check it. The same is true with measurable goals. You need a tester that can tell you if you are still on track towards your target.

For each specific goal, set a time and procedure for how you will measure your progress.

Example of a measurable goal: I want to lose 50 pounds in the next 10 months. I will weigh myself every Saturday morning of each week to check my progress.


Originally, the “A” stood for Assignable for who would complete the task. But now there is only one person doing the work, you. In your case, the “A” stands for achievable.

If your goal is not achievable, you are setting yourself up for failure. Therefore, set goals that you know you can accomplish.

Example of an unattainable goal: I want to become president of a company this year.

Example of an achievable goal: I want to maintain employment at a company that allows me to grow and get promoted based on my performance.

While you may be capable of running the company, putting pressure on yourself to reach that goal in under a year can lead to stress, which can lead to relapse.

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4. Set REALISTIC Goals

You may be thinking achievable and realistic are similar, and they are. The difference when setting goals has to do with the tools you have to attain the goal. Do you realistically have the knowledge and resources to reach your goal?

Example of a realistic goal: I want to run a marathon in May by working with a trainer who can help me build strength and stamina, a nutritionist who can create a training diet for me, and a support system of people who will encourage me along the way.

In recovery, realistic goals include relapse prevention skills that teach you how to cope, manage stress, control impulses, and make good decisions.

5. Set TIME BOUND Goals

Setting time bound goals prevents you from slacking. If you had no time limits, you may continually procrastinate and never reach your goal. This part of goal setting incorporates some of the other SMART goals.

When you establish your target completion date, be specific, and make sure your time limit is attainable and realistic.

Example of a time bound goal: I want to lead a recovery support group in my hometown by December. This will give me 12 months in sobriety, and plenty of time to work closely with my sponsor, with whom I will attend three meetings a week every week.

Smart Goals Help You Achieve Resolutions

In conclusion, setting SMART goals can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Working with a counselor or treatment center can help. They can help you incorporate the SMART method even further by breaking them down into short-term versus long-term goals.

SMART goals can be set at any time throughout the year. Put those resolutions behind you and start seeing positive results with the SMART method.