How to Set SMART Goals for the New Year

Reward Your College Student with a Care Package When They Achieve Their Reasonable and Relevant Goals

We’re quickly approaching the time of year that everyone begins to think about their New Year’s resolutions – a tradition that started about 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Today’s traditions include setting goals for self-improvement – and usually failing to meet them. Instead of dropping off the bandwagon before March hits, set New Year’s resolutions that truly matter to you, and that are actually attainable.


When it comes to goal-setting, “go big or go home” isn’t always the best philosophy! Instead, setting SMART goals that you can actually attain is far more rewarding and helpful to your life. So, how can you set SMART goals?

What is a smart goal?

A SMART goal is one that is:

  • Simple: Is this a goal that can be met? Is it possible to meet?
  • Meaningful: Is meeting this goal important? Is it important to me?
  • Actionable: Are there clear steps I can take to meet this goal?
  • Realistic: Can I reach this goal with the resources I have?
  • Trackable: How can I measure whether I am successful? When do I know I’m successful? How will I check in on my success?

Let’s look at a couple of example goals to give you a better idea of how to write yours.


Katrina’s Story

Katrina has become idle because of the pandemic, turning into a couch potato and avoiding any form of exercise or activity. After she completes her school work, she lounges on the couch and binge-watches television shows. Concerned that her new habits are unhealthy, Katrina is determined to change that in 2021. Katrina writes a SMART goal for herself:


I will engage in physical activity four times a week for one hour each session, using my exercise bike or online workout videos. I will track my progress in my planner. I will consider each week a success when I have completed my physical activity sessions each week.


We see that Katrina’s goal is simple: she has decided she should be more active. It’s meaningful to her, because she is finding that her new habits are not healthy for her. She determined this of her own volition. Katrina has determined clear steps to meet her goal and has chosen forms of exercise she will partake in. Katrina already has the resources she needs, as stated in her SMART goal. Finally, she knows she will track her success in her planner by noting when she has participated in physical activity.


Sage’s Story

Sage is a college freshman who is struggling to manage their time. They miss assignment deadlines regularly and know that they procrastinate often. Their grades are suffering because of this. Sage does not find their academic work to be particularly difficult, and they do enjoy what they’re learning. Sage wants to improve their grades for the spring semester and earn at least Bs in all their classes. Sage writes a SMART goal for themself:


I will use my online calendar to schedule my study and homework time throughout the week and stick to that schedule by asking my friend, roommate, and uncle to help keep me accountable by checking in with me each once per week. I will consider myself a success when I stick to my schedule during the school week and see improvements in my grades by midterms. I will check in with myself once per month to determine whether I need to adjust my set schedule to ensure it fits with my classes, extracurriculars, and work.


Sage’s SMART goal is simple: make a schedule and stick to it to improve their grades. It is meaning to Sage because they see the value in focusing on academics. Sage has set clear steps to meet their goal, and has rounded up friends and family members to follow up to make sure they are sticking to their plan. Sage has an online calendar already, so they do not need any special equipment. And Sage has set a specific goal to see improvements in their grades: by midterms. Sage has also included something very important in their goals: the ability to make minor adjustments to their schedule as their circumstances change.

What are other best practices for setting resolutions?

Aside from setting SMART goals, when you decide on your resolutions, you can set yourself up for success by following a few other best practices.

  • Set no more than three goals for the year. A lengthy list of goals is overwhelming.
  • Don’t consider what other people want for you when setting your resolutions. Choose things based on your own ideas, not others’ opinions of you.
  • If you know you need outside accountability, secure it before confirming your goals for the year, such as reaching out to a friend or family member to ask them for their support.

What if I meet my goal?

The great thing about reaching a goal is the satisfaction and pride you feel in yourself! 

Savor that moment, and let those feelings of positivity wash over you.

Reward yourself for meeting your goals with a college student care package.

When you ask for support in reaching your goals, it’s also the perfect time to request help thinking of ways to reward yourself. If you are needing something more tangible to reward yourself for sticking to your new good habits and reaching a goal, may we suggest one of our college student subscription boxes – a care package service your parents can sign you up for, full of goodies and treats every month of the year? Our student care packages have something for everyone inside, are seasonally-themed, and totally awesome, if we do say so ourselves. 

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