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First, I’m going to make a few suggestions for seniors to consider when it comes time for making New Years resolutions.  Then, I’ll offer some advice about how to succeed in fulfilling your resolutions.

  • Exercise 10 minutes a day
  • Revive an old friendship
  • Spend more time with the grandchildren
  • Make healthier dessert decisions
  • Revisit an old pastime

Your best chance for success: make your goals smart – and SMART.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.  It’s a common acronym in business management circles and it applies to New Year’s resolutions, too.

Specific: 

To help ensure that your resolutions are sustainable, be sure to make them absolutely clear.  Katherine L. Milkman, an associate professor of operations information and decisions at Wharton suggests, “Making a concrete goal – five pounds in the next two months – is really important rather than vaguely stating ‘I want to lose weight.’

Measurable:

Many resolutions, such as weight loss or conditioning, provide natural metrics to measure success.  No matter what your resolution is, logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone can help you track behaviors and reinforce the progress.

Achievable:

Creating an unrealistic goal is most often an exercise in frustration that kills the best of intentions even for the most earnest resolution makers.  Make sure that your goal is challenging but achievable.

Relevant:

Does your goal really matter to you?  Are you choosing this for the right reasons?  “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long,” said Dr. Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist.  “But if you buildup a process where you’re thinking harder about what’s good for you, you’re changing the structure of your life, you’re bringing people into your life who will reinforce that resolution, then I think you have a fighting chance.”

Time-bound:

Like “achievable,” the timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic.  You need to give yourself time to do it and provide lots of smaller, intermediate goals along the way. By focusing on the small, you can make gradual progress, build good habits and achieve your plan for the next decade and not just the next couple of months.

As we age, self-improvement is still within our grasp.  Resolve to be the best you that you can be and have a Happy New Year!