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New Year's resolutions: A Guide to Goal Setting

New Year… New you…? Regardless of how this cliche hits or how you may feel about New Year’s resolutions, there is a pretty helpful way to guide the art of goal setting — and at any time of the year! You can use this handy acronym, SMART, to remember the five components of effective goal setting.

Here’s what it stands for:

Specific – What do you want to accomplish exactly? This is related to the who(s) and what(s) for your goal.

Measurable – How do you plan to track your progress? How can you count or otherwise quantify an activity or any results? A baseline measurement is also needed to demonstrate any change(s) over time.

Achievable – Is this goal realistic and achievable? And how do you plan to achieve it? Is your goal attainable within a given time frame and with the available resources?

Realistic – How relevant is this goal to you? Is it something that you realistically have enough control over?

Time-bound – How long will it take to achieve this goal? You’ll want to provide a time frame indicating when you will either measure your progress or when the goal will be achieved by.


Let’s say you want to move your body more regularly. The SMART version of this would be: 

“I will engage in one enjoyable physical activity (walking, yoga, basketball, weight training, etc) 3x/week for 15-20 minutes per activity over the course of 12 weeks. My progress will be measured by how many weeks I engage in movement 3x and what length of time.”

Happy goal setting, folks! And that goes for New Year’s and/or literally any other time you’d find it useful. 

Here’s to two-thousand-twenty-four!


Kim Johnson, LMHC, MT-BC, is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and board certified music therapist (MT-BC) who graduated with her master’s from Lesley University in 2017. She has experience with adults and adolescents in group private practice and community mental health settings. The levels of care she has worked in are outpatient, with both individual and group therapy and in partial hospital programs for mental health and substance use disorders. Additionally, she has had intensive training in dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive processing therapy for PTSD.

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