Make SMART Plans Not New Year Resolutions

If you want to achieve in 2017 make SMART plans, not new year resolutions! The first step to doing this is choosing a specific and realistic goal(s) that means something to you. Then breaking down that goal in to smaller chunks and shaping them in to habits. It is important to plan for all eventualities, such as peer pressures, illness or criticisms. After you decide what New Year’s resolutions you want to make, your next step is to create a concrete plan to keep them.

SMART and Challenging Goals

When you create a plan to achieve your goals, it’s fundamental to make them SMART and break them down to smaller more manageable chunks that are challenging. Doing so will help you define exactly what you want to accomplish. Also it is critical not just to write the goal(s) down, but say why they are important for you to achieve.

Making your goals so SMART that Einstein would be impressed! 

The ‘SMART‘ approach to goal setting is a very simple and yet very effective framework for creating goals. In practice, this framework is a very powerful techniques that will help you achieve what you set out to do. So grab a journal, calendar or a bit of paper, take out a pen and lets get planning…

The SMART approach is about planning goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.


Your goal should be as specific as humanly possible. That means your plan should include:

  • A detailed account of what you would like to accomplish.
  • Who needs to be involved for you to reach your goal and what resources you will need.
  • The whys and wheres to how you will accomplish this goal, and any associated costs, for example budgeting for language tutorials and how much time you plan to dedicate to achieving your goals.

The more specific you make your goal, the more powerful your plan will be as you will know exactly what you need to do to accomplish it!

For example, instead of making a New Year’s resolution to learn a new language, make a new year’s plan. For instance: “I’m going to learn Mandarin Chinese with a personal tutor online, every Tuesday and Thursday.  I want to accomplish the goal so I can can ‘get by’ when I visit the country in July 2017. In addition to the tutorials I will also study for 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week for 3 months. I will budget £150 to achieve this goal.”


Next, define exactly how you will measure your progress. For example, make a monthly video speaking in your target language or regularly test yourself and reflect on these results on a monthly basis.

Accountable & Attainable 

Is the goal realistic and can it actually be attainable by you? What do you need to accomplish your goals? Do you have the energy, focus, time to achieve it? Also don’t forget to share your goals with others as this also makes you accountable for your actions.


Is the goal relevant to you. For example does it fit in with your values and priorities? Relevance can also refer to whether it is the right time to follow through on a goal. Some goals might be better suited for later on in the year, but I recommend still setting aside some time to plan for them.

Time Frame 

Time creates urgency, and your goals should always have a time-frame. For example, instead of making a goal to learn Spanish, make a goal to have a conversation in Spanish in 3 months. There are lots of supportive communities out there to help you achieve this goal, such as the #Add1Challenge.

It is also important to define the milestones you will reach along the way to achieving the big goal, and when exactly you plan to reach those milestones. Since you have already defined your goals to be measurable and attainable, you will be able to make realistic, real progress toward your milestones after you create your plan.

Creating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based is one of the most powerful strategies define and stick to your goals. If you are serious about sticking to your goals then you need to have plan of action. You may what to modify your plan at a later stage. I tend to review mine every 3 months of the year. I reward myself for the targets I meet and re-plan the targets that I have not met.

I am not just gonna to write this one blog on this issue I plan to do a series of blogs throughout the year to support you in achieving your goals and if you let me know what goals you set I will also signpost resources that will help you.

Please comment below what your goals are for 2017 or email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes for 2017! 


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The Mindful Language Learner

Trisha, is the founder of Language Learners An award-winning blog dedicated to empowering and promoting a more mindful approach to independent language learning and teaching across the UK and beyond. Trisha has a professional and academic background in psychology and well-being. She has been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years and has professionally taught CBT-based mindfulness for the past 7 years. You can follow Trisha on her official Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts to discover how to apply simply mindfulness practices and scientifically proven strategies to your language learning...

2 thoughts on “Make SMART Plans Not New Year Resolutions

  1. […] Set smaller more realistic goals that lead to the bigger goal of learning the specific language (or two). Big goals can be overwhelming. Use my 28DayLanguagePlannerwhere you can make a note of why language learning is so important to you and set out some clear goals for the next 28 days. Ensure you set some breaks every 5-7 days.  For more information on setting goals read how to make SMART plans. […]

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