Make SMART Resolutions This Year

Start the year off on the right foot by setting up goals you'll actually meet.


By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN


It’s that time of year where people set their new year’s resolutions to eat healthier, work out more, lose weight, or move forward in their professional or personal life. Unfortunately, most of those good intentions fall by the wayside as life gets real again after the holidays. Want to actually meet your goals in the new year? Start by choosing a great goal and setting yourself up for success. Here’s how.

Choose The Right Goal For YOU

It’s easy to pick one of those stereotypical New Year’s resolutions everybody makes, but give yourself a chance to dig deeper and really think about how you want to feel and what you want to accomplish in the coming year.

How does that compare to where you are now? Why do you want to accomplish that thing? Tuning into what’s behind your resolution will also help you stay motivated along the way since you know why you’re making the effort and can see how it’s all worth it.

Also important: Don’t set a resolution you think you should make. You have to actually want to accomplish that goal for yourself. Trying to do things we don’t want to do in order to please others rarely ends well. It tends to breed feelings of resentment and anger. It’s also harder to stay tuned into the “why” of it on those days you want to throw in the towel.


Maybe this one is familiar, but in case you need a refresher, make your goal specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. For example, instead of “lose weight,” or “drop fifty pounds, you could vow to “lose twelve pounds in six months.” That breaks down further into about half a pound per week. This gives you a framework to plan around as you determine how you can get where you want to be.

The next step for that weight loss goal would be to come up with a plan for trimming some calories from your day and fitting in an appropriate amount of exercise to help you lose that half-pound per week.

ID Barriers Before They Derail You

Think about where you’ve fallen off in the past. What tripped you up? Where there particular situations, people, schedule issues, or specific triggers that made it tricky for you to stay on track? How would you handle those situations differently?

To use the weight loss example again, maybe mindless eating at work is a struggle. Tuning in to why that happens can give you clues for how to rewrite the script. Maybe you come up with other stress-relieving activities like taking a walk or making a cup of tea when you feel crazed.

Don’t Go It Alone

Being accountable to a trusted friend or hiring a dietitian, trainer, or coach can help you stay on track. Having someone on the journey with you can also be priceless when you need extra support. I love that saying that we have the same 24 hours per day that Beyoncé does, but remember, she’s also got a team behind the scenes—you deserve help too!

Celebrate Success Along The Way

Acknowledging your efforts and progress through the year ahead boosts your self-esteem and motivation. Map out milestones along your path and plan some (ideally, non-food) rewards to celebrate when you get to each of them.

Cheers to happy and healthy new year!

Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life and a balanced relationship with food. For those in need of some healthy-eating inspiration, Jess created five day's worth of delicious make-ahead lunches to make it even easier to eat well on a busy day. For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebook and Pinterest.

Main Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/; Second Photo Credit: Jenn Huls/; Third Photo Credit: Syda Productions/

Feb 11, 2018

Try making 18 resolutions for 2018. My first one was learn peoples name. ✅🎯 Easier than I thought. Hardest one is I am a sucker for landscaping flowering bushes. I am an overbuyer. The trick is either moderation or abstain. Gulp! Going forward in February - abstain!

Mar 19, 2018

February I splurged on an orchid tree that was in my Grandmas memory, cactus plants as my splurge. I am coming back to this post in mid March. So the breaks are on landscaping from now on. Rededicate myself. Gretchen Rubins books really keep me focused on resolutions all year long. Flossing is one I seem to have concurred. It’s not mind blowing but it was a basic flaw.