by Jessica Aldos  

Now that we’ve said goodbye to the dumpster fire of a year known as 2020 (finally), many of us are jumping headfirst into the new year. After all of the challenges and changes that last year brought, here we are in 2021, ready to take the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start.  

New Year’s resolutions are a tradition that encourage us to make positive changes in our lives. But for manyit’s the same story every year: We make them, we attempt them, and soon enough, we forget about them. We start off the new year with tons of hope and motivation in January, only to fail and tell ourselves “maybe I’ll try again next year” by the end of the month  

Photo by Karolina GrabowskafromPexels 

In fact, 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will drop them by the second week of February.  


That’s right about… now.  


So before you fall into this statistic, set clear and effective goals. If you’ve already given up on your 2021 resolutions, don’t wait for New Year 2022 to come around; start as soon as you’re ready. Every day is a new opportunity to grow and be a better you.   


Set SMART Goals 


Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to run a marathon.  


Here’s the problem: I wasn’t even a runner in the first place. Honestly, I barely even liked running, I just enjoy challenging myself. I probably couldn’t run for more than ten minutes without wanting to stop, let alone 42 kilometres. I was basically just setting myself up for failure.  

 Running a marathon was more of a long-term goal. Broadly speaking, I wanted to run more. Just like saving money, eating healthy, or losing weight, running is much easier said than done. 

You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before, but not many of us think about applying them to our resolutions! SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.  


 Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels 


Here’s how I turned my ill-defined resolution into an achievable one with the help of the SMART goal framework:   


Specific: Narrow down your goal as much as possible, making it clear and concrete“I want to run a marathon” or “I want to run more” was way too broadI made myself a specific goal of running a 5km, in 30 minutes or less, by training at least three times per week.  


MeasurableI kept track of my mileage, pace, and overall improvement. By doing this, I was also holding myself accountable. The more I ran, the faster I was becoming, and the longer the distances I was able to runLogging my progress into a journal and seeing that I was making steps towards my goal (literally) made me want to work even harder. 


AchievableIt’s great to be ambitious, but you should still be reasonable too. Realistically, with the pandemic, school, and work, I couldn’t train for a marathon. I broke down my goal into smaller, short-term goals, keeping my long-term goal in mind. 42km might have been a little far-fetched, but 5km was a good, achievable start.  


Realistic: Achieving resolutions can be difficult when you don’t have a strategic, realistic plan set. Tying in with the previous point, your goals and expectations need to be realistic. I knew my limits and what I was capable ofIf you set goals that are too impractical, you are more likely to give up on them sooner if you don’t see any results.  


Time-boundI did more than just tell myself that I wanted to run 5km, I gave myself a deadline: three months. If you don’t give yourself a proper timeframe, you risk not working on your goal at all.  


“Run more” turned into “be able to run 5km non-stop in under 30 minutes by April, by training at least three times per weekAnd just like that, I was running more. I eased into it incrementally. I ran my first 5km before my deadline, and surpassed my own expectations by running a 10km just a couple of weeks later. 


With practice and consistency, running became something that I actually enjoyed. It became a habit and a part of my regular routine (if you told me that two years ago, I’d laugh in your face).  


Maybe I’ll run a marathon someday after all.  



It’s not going to happen overnight  

There are days where you’ll feel stuck or unmotivated, but that doesn’t mean you should completely give upTake breaks and remember to celebrate everything that you accomplish! After a year like the last, we can all be a little kinder to ourselves.  

Treat your goal like a marathon (haha), not a sprint. The path to our destination is not always a straight one. That said, achieving your goals is still going to take some hard work and dedication. 

 Despite all of the unprecedented challenges that we faced (and continue to face), effective goal-setting is a powerful practice and a great way to set yourself up for success.  


 Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels 



A little late, but happy new year! Here’s to a 2021 full of hope, health, happiness, and learning!  


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