A SMART approach to your employees’ New Year’s resolutions — or any time

It’s that time of year again. With the holidays close by, it’s natural for your employees to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Keeping a promise to oneself is more easily said than done, though. Year after year, people enter January with ambitious goals: losing weight, exercising more, signing up for a race. Sound familiar? So what actually goes wrong with all this positive intent?

According to the American Psychological Association, the way we define our resolutions can foreshadow how successful we will be in keeping them. “By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year.”1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a great way for employees to set themselves up for success. Use your internal communications channels to educate employees on setting goals by making SMART resolutions.2 Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.

Specific. Be sure to establish specific details for resolutions. Saying you’ll “exercise more” is not specific. Committing to walking for half an hour after work four days a week is specific. Decide exactly what you will do, when you will do it and for how long.

Measurable. This means you can objectively measure your success. You can’t measure a goal of trying to eat better this year. However, you can keep track of whether you’re eating five servings of fruits and vegetables at least five days a week.

Attainable. Resolutions should be challenging, but feasible. This means you have the time and resources to achieve them. For example, let’s say your work schedule doesn’t accommodate a trip to the gym before work every day. Going to the gym every day isn’t something you can attain. However, you might be able to commit to one weekday gym visit, two weekend visits and a half-hour of outdoor activities during the week.

Realistic. Set yourself up for success by being realistic with your goals. Your New Year’s resolution should be meaningful to you and where you are in your life right now. Ask yourself, “What is most important to me in this coming year?” This will allow you to prioritize goals that fit your lifestyle.

Time bound. Determine dates, milestones or time frames for your goals. Keeping track of your progress can keep you motivated. Circle a date on a calendar or set a weekly reminder on your phone to stay accountable to yourself. Having a time limit can motivate you to get started and to stay on course.

Remember that setbacks or missteps are completely normal and acceptable. Don’t give up just because you ate some Valentine’s Day chocolate or birthday cake. Or maybe you skipped the gym for a week because you were busy or on vacation. Everyone has their ups and downs — it’s a part of the process. Establish a plan for dealing with these periods of your life so you can get back on track as soon as possible.

Finally, write it down. Share your resolutions with a friend, family member, co-worker or health advocate. This helps keep you honest and dedicated to yourself as you make your way to a healthier you.

Learn how having an ergonomist at your worksite can help employees achieve their SMART goals.


About the Author:

Abigail HoffmanAbigail Hoffman, MS, CEAS® I
Product Manager, Optum On-Site Ergonomics

Abbe Hoffman holds a master’s degree in health promotion and has more than 12 years of experience in corporate wellness. In her role at Optum®, she focuses on education and awareness to bring about positive behavior change to the populations her team supports. Ergonomic solutions help decrease the impact and stressors that highly repetitive tasks have on the body. Over time, these tasks can cause injury and limit peoples’ ability to enjoy work, hobbies, sports and normal daily activities.

In her free time, Abbe enjoys trail running, practicing yoga and spending time outdoors in the northeast Hudson Valley.


1APA. Making your resolutions stick. apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx. Accessed Oct. 31, 2018.
2CDC. Developing program goals and measurable objectives. cdc.gov/std/program/pupestd/developing%20program%20goals%20and%20objectives.pdf. Accessed Oct. 31, 2018.

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