How to Set the Best New Year's Goals


One of the most prominent parts of kicking off a new year is the feeling of renewal. This is a fresh start for you to go out there and hit the new year with everything you’ve got! Unfortunately, this motivation usually lasts through mid-January, and people forget all about the resolutions they had only weeks ago. For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to set up new year’s resolutions and it has not worked out yet. After so many failed attempts, I’ve formulated exactly what it takes to achieve a goal, and I am confident for 2017. Many of my goals this year are academic. Since it’s my junior year, I have a ton of academic and extracurricular responsibilities. Plus, in late 2017, I will be going through the college application process, which I’m nervous yet excited for. I know this year will be a huge step in my life, and I have to rise to the occasion. My steps to creating and enforcing a goal plan for the new year are oriented towards my own situation, and will be effective for others who have academic goals as well! Here’s the process:

Be S.M.A.R.T. About It

SMART goals are goals that are well-formulated and yield the most success. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Using this method of setting goals is the best way to give yourself a shot at self-improvement.


When setting a goal, especially an academic one, it must be specific. For me, my initial goal was to do better in my math class. Goals like this are far too general. Your goals need to get into the nitty, gritty details, so you can’t make excuses for yourself. They should be actions and not just intentions. Think about the necessary action it takes to achieve your goal and make this your resolution. My resolution became to do my math homework as it is assigned.


Now that your goal is action-oriented, think about how you can measure your progress throughout the year. Keeping track of what you have achieved and how far you’ve come is critical because it serves as encouragement for yourself. For my goal regarding math, I can measure this using a habit tracker. A habit tracker is basically a calendar where you shade the boxes of the days that you completed a task you’d like to make a habit. This way, it’s easy to tell whether or not you have been doing what you planned to. I keep my habit tracker in my bullet journal so I see it every day. When a goal’s progress is measurable, it is much easier to hold yourself accountable.


So many of the goals that I’ve set in the past are simply unrealistic, and I had just set myself up for failure. If you can envision a reasonable process that you know you can follow to achieve your goal, your goal is most likely achievable. Look at your past and your potential to gauge what is and isn’t achievable. This doesn’t mean that you should set goals that don’t challenge you. Always strive for improvement, but make sure that it’s attainable and realistic. If you’re trying to break a habit, for example, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to go cold turkey.


A goal must always have a purpose. Think about the goal you have so far, and assess it. Is it really relevant to what you want to do and who you want to be? For academic goals, this isn’t much of an issue. This question is geared more towards personal goals, but you should still think about it. Is there a goal that is more relevant to your situation that you should focus more on? This can lead to multiple goals or focusing in on one larger goal. How your goal is relevant to you is important to take note of because it gives you a reason to achieve it. It fuels your drive to achieve.


Having a timely goal is related to having a measurable goal. Try to set checkpoints for yourself throughout the year. This helps your goal become something that surpasses just January. Checkpoints also serve as a safeguard. If you reach a checkpoint and you have made little to no progress, something is obviously not working out. Take the time to reevaluate your goal and the plan to achieve it. What about it isn’t working, and how can you change it? Goals are something that can change and grow as you do.

With these tips in mind, you can take control of your year and better yourself. Life is dynamic, and you too must grow and improve as life changes and throws things at you.