It’s the time of year where many of us are making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. For many of us, this process begins and ends with stating an aspiration for growth or improvement. This year, try making “smart resolutions”, and identify the steps you will need to take to achieve your goals. Like SMART goals, SMART resolutions are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based.

New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity for an annual goal setting process – for students these can be academic or personal goals. Here are a few tips for taking your resolutions to the next level and ensuring that you will make progress towards achieving your aspirations:

  • S. Make your resolution specific

    Define your resolution. The first step in setting a goal is to decide what you hope to achieve. It’s ok to start with something general, but try to make your goal more specific. For example, a student may resolve to do better at school. This is a great resolution, but to make SMART resolutions encourage students to be more specific and identify specific areas of school or knowledge and skills to improve upon (e.g. note-taking, or completing homework on time). For a guided practice on how to coach students, visit Edutopia’s blog post about SMART goals.

  • M. Make your resolution measurable

    Once you have identified your SMART resolution, you need to establish criteria for success so you can track your progress and know when you have accomplished your aspiration. For example, if you are a teacher whose aspiration is to create a more engaging classroom for your students this year, how will you know if your students are more engaged? Create a list of criteria, or a checklist of observations that will help you know students are engaged.

  • A. Make your resolution attainable

    Make sure that the resolution you have identified can actually be achieved. Otherwise, you may become discouraged. For example, as a parent setting a resolution for your student to go from never turning in their homework to turning in 100% of their homework starting January 1st is not attainable. Set a more attainable goal of ensuring that you and your student have regular conversations about their homework and attempt to address root causes of homework incompletion, like failure to write down homework assignments.

  • R. Make your resolution relevant

    Just as important as whether a resolution is attainable is whether a resolution is relevant. Is the resolution one you are setting because you think you should, or because it fits into a bigger picture of what will be fulfilling for you in the course of your life? For example, encourage students to think about how the coursework they take fits into a bigger picture of knowledge and skills they think will help them in their career and future learning opportunities.

  • T. Make your resolution time-bound

    Resolutions must be accomplishable within a reasonable time frame. A resolution that takes your whole life to accomplish, while it may be important, is not one that you can count as a SMART resolution. Rather than resolving to a lofty and neverending process of self-improvement, set a concrete aspiration that can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame: for a New Year’s resolution, a year is a pretty common time frame.