It’s a new year—a time for new beginnings. Perhaps you’ve resolved to build a better financial portfolio this year. Or maybe a better work-life balance is what you desire. Or, if you are in the largest majority of Americans, you want to transform your body in 2019.

According to Statista.com, a web-based market research company, nearly 50% of survey respondents in 2017 said they resolved to lose weight or get in shape. Unfortunately, a recent article published by Business Insider tells us that less than 20% of New Year’s resolutions are kept, and most people give up on their resolution by February of that same year.

So, how do we develop the day-to-day behaviors that will turn into habits that keep us on a long-term path of success? Your number one priority should be creating achievable goals. Setting small, realistic goals throughout the year will allow for several small successes, which motivates the health seeker to continue their positive lifestyle choices. Overly ambitious goals can lead to frustration, even if they seem exciting in the beginning. Lofty overall goals that are lacking small attainable steps can be a recipe for failure. This is because making healthy choices and developing daily habits is psychological. We need to create an environment that promotes success along the way, rather than one large mountain to climb.

If you want your resolutions to stick, you should follow the SMART acronym when creating them. SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound.” For example, people will often say that they are going to go to the gym more often for their New Year’s resolution. That’s a great goal, but it’s not a SMART goal.

1. Instead of saying that you are going to go to the gym, add in specifics, such as how many days a week, what time of day, and what you will do while you are there.

2. Jot down your progress so you can measure what is working and what isn’t. This is how we find those small successes that we can build upon.

3. Attainable goals are goals that can be met with your current skill set and abilities. Deciding to join a local running club can be an attainable goal for someone who doesn’t have a tremendous amount of running experience. However, completing a 10k during the first month of the new year may be a little ambitious for the running novice.

4. Make sure your goals align with your priorities and lifestyle. Knowing what you’re capable of is essential. Day-to-day schedules can seem hectic and overwhelming. Commit a realistic time to meal planning and preparation to ensure thoughtful, consistent, and healthy meals that will give you energy and bring balance to your normal, everyday nutrition plan.

5. Timebound goals help to make your resolution specific and tangible. Set parameters around your goals. How long each day will you commit to healthy meal planning, spending time with your family, or physical activity? Timebound can also be long term. Just as unhealthy behaviors develop over time, healthy behaviors also take time to develop. Work toward several small changes at a time that will lead you to the ultimate long-term goal.

Being intentional about incorporating your SMART goals into your day-to-day life is vital to success. Getting your whole family on board is ideal. Also, your co-workers can be an encouraging source of support. Collaborate with them to create a workplace wellness competition. Bringing in the help of a trained professional can also be helpful because they add a layer of accountability.

You will probably experience setbacks, and that’s okay. If you stick to your plan, you’re less likely to become discouraged and give up. When using the SMART goal system, you create a roadmap to a healthier, more connected lifestyle that is achievable. Remember perfection isn’t the goal, because perfection as a goal isn’t SMART. However, a happy, well-balanced, and healthy you is a very “smart” goal indeed.

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