I have never put much stock into making resolutions. I usually think of some desire that falls into the typical categories: health, money, or embracing a hobby (new or old), and say “yeah, maybe that.” Unsurprisingly, these resolutions rarely come to pass.

My lack of effort on a new year’s resolution is paradoxical with my own emphasis on goal setting. For example, I set weekly goals as part of my journal, and I frequently review my ten personal and ten professional goals that are long term. I put focus on all of these.

This year, I have set aside some time this week to do Tim Ferriss’s “Year in Review” for 2020. If anything, substantial comes of that, I might share it here. But for those of you interested in setting traditional resolutions, I will offer some advice.

First, make sure your resolutions are written SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Time-bound). I am going to assume that many of these are for the whole year, so the next step will be to break those down into leading actions you can take in smaller time blocks.

Let us take a typical goal: lose 20 lbs. in 2021. Great, it is specific (20), measurable (get a starting weight), attainable (assuming this does not put you below a healthy weight), relevant (assuming you want the result), and time-bound (this year). Now the sub-goals for leading actions.

These can be for a smaller time, maybe one month, and they must be LEADING activities that can be actively measured every day or week. Stepping on a scale is a lag measurement of effort already put forth, so it is better to focus on leading activities. For example, target an exercise, step count, or other activity-based measurement and another, consumption-based goal such as calories, eliminating sweets, minimizing eating out, etc.

There you go. Make the main goal SMART, and give it a couple smaller, leading goals that are also SMART. Celebrate achieving those leading goals to keep the momentum going and see the results at Year End! Happy New Year all!

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