With the new year comes the perennial urge to make it our best, most productive one ever. But just wanting to make positive changes isn't going to make them happen. That requires planning, focus, and enough persistence to make new habits stick.

One way to give yourself a leg up on your resolutions is to set goals that are realistic, measurable, and yes, flexible. That may sound complicated, but all it takes is a bit of forethought. The first step is coming up with parameters that aren’t just clever, but SMART:

  • Specific: What are the nitty-gritty details of your goal? Are there additional resources you have (or may need) to get the job done?
  • Measurable: How can you evaluate progress toward this goal? How will you know when you’ve reached the finish line?
  • Attainable: Can you reach this goal within the boundaries that you’ve set for yourself? Are there things you can do to make it more realistic? If not, you may want to consider setting a new goal for yourself.
  • Relevant: Does this goal align with your personal values?
  • Time-bound: How long will it take you to get the results you want?

A SMART goal could be something like the following: Reduce the stress and anxiety I feel on a daily basis, especially during my working hours, by practicing meditation and journaling.