Assistant Professor of Psychology Holly Griskell, PhD, breaks down a sure-fire strategy for keeping resolutions you’ve made in 2023.

The New Year is the perfect opportunity to reset and recommit yourself to healthy habitswhether it is being more intentional about connecting with family, starting an exercise routine, or committing to better study habits.

However, the hardest part of New Year’s resolutions is keeping them! One strategy for keeping your resolution is by turning it into a “SMART” goal. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  


When you create a resolution, it is important to be specific. If you want to be more intentional about connecting with your family, what does that mean to you? Instead of saying you want to connect with family more frequently, you can be more specific by including answers to questions like “who”, “how”, and “when” in your goal, such as aiming to call your grandparents at least once per week. 


You will also want to be able to measure if you are fulfilling your resolution. Making your goal measurable means turning your goal into something that you can track. For example, exercising 3 times per week for 30 minutes each session is a measurable goal whereas “exercising more” is not. 


One pitfall of making a New Year’s resolution is starting off with an overly ambitious goal that may end up feeling too overwhelming, which leads to breaking the resolution. For example, it would be great to exercise 7 days per week for an hour each day, but if you have too many other obligations with class, homework, and extra-curriculars, it might be better to start smaller. Committing to exercising twice a week for an hour each session is likely more achievable than exercising every day. 


You will want to ensure that the tasks you engage in are relevant to your goal. If you are hoping to stay on track with your reading for class, reading 20 pages per day might be a better goal than spending 2 hours per day in the library. Because, let’s face it, you might spend 2 hours in the library on social media or chatting with friends rather than completing your actual goal! 


Having specific deadlines can also be helpful in keeping a resolution. For example, if your goal is to submit your paper on time this semester, a time-bound goal might be to have at least 5 pages of the paper written by the end of the week rather than saying you will finish the paper “on time”. 

The University of California put out a helpful handbook on SMART goals in 2016. For more information on setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, click here.

Want in?

Do you have an interest in human behavior and want to be equipped to make a positive impact in others’ lives? A psychology degree from Concordia will equip you to do just that from a distinctly Christian lens!

—Dr. Holly Griskell is an assistant professor in CUW’s Psychology Department. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2021. She currently serves as a member of CUW’s JED Campus Committee and is interested in promoting students’ mental health and wellness.