This Year I'm Making S.M.A.R.T. Plans Instead Of Resolutions

by Holly Garcia
Mayur Kakade/Getty

It’s that time again, and every year seems to be the same story. We get all hyped up to try new things, set new goals, and make those New Year’s resolutions! And then, maybe six weeks in (or six days), it all gets thrown to the wind. Because if we’re being honest, were any of them really going to stick?

Maybe it’s just me, but for as long as I can remember, resolutions have been a pain in the ass. Alas, I’ve always made them anyway. And my number one resolution? It was always about how much weight I’d lose during that year. Spoiler alert, I haven’t met a resolution once in the 19 years I’ve been doing this.

So this year, I’ve decided to try something a little bit different. I’m not going to make resolutions. Nope, not a damn one. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not hating on the tradition — but I’d rather spend my time and energy on something that sticks. Instead, choosing to take actionable steps towards a lifestyle change is something we can all get behind.

Make S.M.A.R.T Plans, Not Just New Year’s Resolutions

But aren’t New Year’s resolutions the same thing as making plans? Well, not exactly. Resolutions are more like a wish, hope, or a dream; S.M.A.R.T plans are the building blocks we use to implement a lifestyle change.

S.M.A.R.T stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. So when you make your best-laid plans with these criteria in mind, you set yourself up for success. For example, let’s pull apart my annual resolution: This year, I’m going to lose weight.


I suppose you could argue a resolution of losing weight is more specific than getting healthy. But still, how was I going to do it? Exercise more? Make more nutritious food choices? Really, there is nothing specific about losing weight.


In theory, a loss is a loss, right? But when you have a lot of weight to lose, one pound or less a week leaves you feeling like you’re hardly making a dent. When I didn’t specifically state how I would measure my successes, I set myself up for failure.


Each of these criteria tends to lean on the others. Maybe I said okay, I will measure my weight-loss success based on losing 75 pounds in six months. Well, darlings, that comes out to 12.5 pounds a month, and subsequently, 3.25 pounds a week. Now, I’m sure somewhere, someone who can afford a chef, personal trainer, and not to work (oh, and to have someone constantly slapping junk food out of their hand) might consider this attainable. But as for the rest of us, not so much.


Again, declaring that I was going to “lose weight this year” never gave me a clear time frame. Did it mean I would need to start engaging in healthy habits in January? Or would it be okay if I started a crash-diet the day after Thanksgiving hoping I accomplished something before the new year came around again?

Clearly, based on my example, there is a difference between making a New Year’s resolution and taking actionable steps to create a lifestyle change or a new habit. But even more important than that? Even if you make the plans and set the steps, but things still don’t go as planned, remember — it’s okay.

This Year (And Forever After) I’m Ditching This Tradition

I’m not sure whoever invented the idea of New Year’s resolutions knew it would lead to so much … frustration. What was meant to inspire change and set good intentions for the year ahead doesn’t always go as planned. But what society forgets is, that’s alright.

First off, you don’t even have to make resolutions. Literally, it’s taken me almost 20 years to realize that. Yeah, it sounds a little whacky when I write it out. But I guess growing up in a culture that tells you your worth is directly linked to how hard you hustle and how productive you are, brings you to some wacky conclusions.

Secondly, if making these resolutions brings you joy, go on with your bad self. But if your resolutions turn into a reason to beat yourself up, ditch them. Don’t let the commitment to the resolution negate the positive impact it’s meant to have on your life. Remember, this practice is a tool to help you live your best life — whatever it looks like to you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make my plans around mental health advocacy, body acceptance, and being the best mom I can be.