Written by: Allison Bunyan | Emerson Fellow 

We are almost to the end of 2022! Soon, it will be time to switch out your calendar and welcome the new year, which means it is the perfect time to evaluate the past year and reflect on any changes you want to make in the coming year. Many of us take this time to set goals or make New Year’s resolutions, and as we all know, setting goals is harder than you’d think. The process can be frustrating, especially when the goals that we set do not feel achievable. Before you do begin setting your goals, we want to share some tips to help make them more thoughtful, SMART, and right for your needs. Keep reading for guidance on setting goals for the New Year!

Start With Self-Reflection

Have you sat down and reflected on the past year? An end-of-year review can be a good way for you to celebrate improvements you’ve made in 2022 and determine what goals you want to prioritize next year. You may want to use these questions from Psychology Today in your end-of-year reflection:

  • What was a new discovery you made this year? What did you discover that you loved? Your answer could be anything like a new recipe, a podcast, or you joined a gym and found you really liked it.
  • What relationship was the biggest positive surprise to you this year? For example, you What simple pleasures have you especially enjoyed this year? For example, you developed a closer relationship with a colleague you hadn’t previously been close to, or a cousin you don’t know well was at your family thanksgiving and you really enjoyed talking to them. Perhaps someone you don’t know very well was very supportive or encouraging of you, even if they might not even be aware their actions were important to you.
  • What’s an aspect of self-regulation you’ve gotten better at this year? Your answer could be anything from going to bed earlier, using moisturizer, putting your appointments on your calendar so you don’t forget, or eating more vegetables.
  • What simple pleasures have you especially enjoyed this year?
  • How did your self-perception change this year? In what ways have you started to see yourself more positively than you did previously? For example, you’ve realized you’ve got inner strength or a capacity to cope that you didn’t realize you had.

The full list of 20 questions can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201812/20-enjoyable-end-year-review-questions

Or, you might want to ask yourself these 4 questions from Providence Health’s Goal-Setting Guide. They are designed to help you create a wellness vision in preparation for setting goals:

  1. What do I value most about my life? What brings meaning?
  1. What would I like my health, fitness, relationships and wellness to look like one year from now? Write down a clear statement in the present tense. For example: I feel more in charge of my health, I’m more resilient on a day-to-day basis and I’m able to patiently care for my children.
  1. Is there anything that stands in the way of reaching my vision?
  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being I’ve achieved my wellness vision), where do I fall today?

However you choose to do it, an end-of-year reflection will help you understand how you’ve grown and changed in the past year, recognize your accomplishments, acknowledge your missteps, and reflect on lessons learned. With the answers to these questions in mind, you’ll be ready to set new goals and priorities for the new year!

Types of Goals 

The goals that you set can be about anything you want! Maybe you want to be stronger, more grateful or present, healthier, relaxed, or organized. Healthdirect offers additional examples below to help you with forming your goals:

  • Health/Personal Growth: i.e. getting better sleep, weight loss, training for and completing an endurance event, learning a new sport, quitting smoking or reducing alcohol
  • Career and Business: improving work performance, gaining a promotion or changing careers
  • Education: completing a diploma or degree, learning a new language, achieving certain results in school
  • Relationships and Family: spending time with children or partner, reducing conflict or making friends
  • Creative/Artistic: learning a musical instrument, cooking, starting a photo album or blog, writing a novel
  • Community or Volunteer work: coaching a sporting team, starting a charity project or spiritual practice
  • Financial: saving money, reducing debt or achieving investment goals
  • Collective goals: working on a community project
 SMART Goals are KEY

Now that you’ve done some self-reflection and learned more about different types of goals, it is time to enter the goal-setting process. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related. In other words, make them SMART! 

Specific – Identify a specific area for improvement. The first step is to figure out an area you want to improve. Be intentional to identify an area in your life you would like to focus on – it doesn’t matter how big or small it may seem.

Measurable – What will success look like? Once you have a goal, you need to figure out how to measure its progress. Being specific about what success looks like will help you achieve your goal.

Achievable –  Can you do it? When choosing your goal and how you will measure it, make sure it is achievable. While your goal should not be easy, it should be something you can achieve if you work hard and stick to a specific plan.

Realistic – Does this goal make sense for you right now? Results do not happen overnight, and it can be a long journey to achieve your goal. To avoid discouragement, make sure to select goals that are attainable in timeframes that make sense with the resources you have in your life. 

Time-related – Set a deadline. Setting an end date for a goal gives you something to work towards and can help keep you motivated. Be sure your time-frame is achievable and realistic.


  • My goal is to lose 10 pounds by April 2023, so I will begin walking 30 minutes per day, 3-4 times a week.
  • I will exercise 45 minutes a day, 4 days a week until the end of December.
  • I will eat 5 servings of vegetables a day until the end of January.

Check out ACCESS Community Health Network’s advice below for setting SMART health and wellness goals:

Setting the Right Goals For YOU

Before committing to your goals, make sure that you are setting the right goals. In other words, set goals that are aligned with your authentic self – your values, talents, interests, and needs.

Ask yourself these 5 questions from Psychology Today to determine if the goals that you set are right for you:

  1. Does somebody else want me to achieve this goal, or will I get something from someone if I do?
  2. Would I feel ashamed if I didn’t achieve this goal?
  3. Do I really believe this is an important goal to have?
  4. Will this goal provide me with fun and enjoyment?
  5. Does this goal represent who I am and reflect what I value most in life?

According to Psychology Today, you are most likely on the right path if you felt like questions 3-5 described your goals. You might want to change course if questions 1 and 2 describe your goals. Remember, you are more likely to achieve your goals if they align with your authentic self!

Good Luck!

You have all of the tools you need to set meaningful and purposeful goals. As you begin to set and carry out your goals in the new year, we hope that spending time preparing, planning, and setting SMART goals will position you for long-term success. We wish you the best of luck in your goal-setting for the new year!