How to set SMART goals, not resolutions!

woman holding candle at new year

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution only to see it fail the following month?

As I was writing my first newsletter for this year I dug into some research on this subject and was aghast to find that nearly 80% of people admitted to abandoning their New Year’s resolutions by February every year, according to Forbes.

Why is this so?

I find that New Year’s resolutions seldom have actionable steps. They are created out of peer pressure based on an arbitrary date.

woman holding crossed out calendar worried
It is well known that weight loss or eating better or dieting and exercising top the list of resolutions, yet these are not achievable in the long run. What does eating better mean? And what constitutes exercise?

This year, I encourage you to set SMART goals, not resolutions. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Follow these five steps to achieve your 2022 goals.

1. Reflect

Reflect over all areas of your life to determine where you are –and where you want to go. Strictly speaking, goals are the object of your ambition or effort. They are personal. Our lives are not centred around one common axis. We are complex beings. Reflect on the personal (relationships, health), professional (money, career coals), emotional (mental health), and spiritual (self-actualization, self-care) areas of your life.


Write down your SMART goals for the areas in your life you are committed to changing. Use the SMART acronym to set goals.

  • Be specific. Your goals should answer the questions of what you want to accomplish and why it is important to you.
  • Make sure it’s measurable. Quantify your goal in a way you have control. Don’t rely on someone else to measure your success such as receiving a raise. That is outside of your control.
  • Make sure your goal is achievable. Even the loftiest goals can be accomplished. It all starts with a single step.
  • Determine its relevance. Why is this important to you now? Is this goal relevant in your life right now? Relevance is particularly important when setting professional goals.
  • Time bound means setting a specific deadline for accomplishment. A deadline creates a sense of urgency to motivate us to act.

3. See it Daily

man with arms outstreatched day break
Post your goals where you can see them. I’m a true believer in affirmations, vision boards, and visualization. I believe you should post your goals where you can see them every day. There’s a reason famous athletes visualize– and it’s because even science affirms that it makes an impact and moves the needle forward. When we write down our goals and then close the notebook, weeks go by without ever seeing or revisiting our goals. Posting them where you can see them keeps them top-of-mind.

4. Have an accountability buddy

couple high five

New research shows that if you tell the right people your goals, you’re more likely to keep them. Accountability, right? You need to tell someone you trust – a friend or mentor. However, that same research found that talking about your plan to achieve the goal is more effective than telling someone your goal. And then keep them informed of your progress. That is what is called as having an Accountability Buddy.

5. Be flexible

Sometimes our goals become outdated or irrelevant. Ditch those. Write new goals if it is relevant or see how you might tweak the other goals you’ve written.

In a study led by professor Dr. Gail Matthews, respondents were 42% more likely to accomplish their goals when they were in writing. The success rate for achieving goals was 76% when study participants wrote down their goals, developed a plan, told a friend, and kept the friend in the loop.

This is where the habit of Journalling is so beneficial. Writing creates a loop in your brain that “wires you for success”


quote george lucas

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Dr Arun Dhir  |  GI Surgeon, Health Reformist & Passionate Educator.

Dr Arun Dhir

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About Dr Arun:

Besides having a busy private practice at Melbourne Gastro Surgery – Centre for Weight Loss, Dr Arun is an active member of the ANZ Association of Gastro-Oesophageal surgeons (ANZGOSA), ANZ Society of Metabolic and Obesity Surgery (OSSANZ) and Australian College of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM).

Dr Arun is also a senior lecturer (University of Melbourne) and yoga and meditation teacher, with a strong interest in the mind-body-gut connection. He regularly writes and speaks about gut health, gut microbiome, obesity, gastrointestinal surgery and healing. Arun’s published works include Happy Gut Healthy Weight (Balboa Press 2018), Creating a New You – Health Journal (Metagenics 2019), and Your Mess Has a Message (2021).