How to Make Achievable Goals

Setting Intentions vs. Resolutions: How to Make Achievable Goals

The new year has arrived and many of us are thinking about ways we’d like to improve ourselves or make positive changes. However, despite our good intentions, research shows that nearly 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Why do so many of us struggle to stick to our ambitious plans for the new year? Often, it comes down to setting unrealistic resolutions instead of intentional goals that empower growth and lasting change.

What’s the difference between resolutions and intentions? Resolutions tend to be broad wishes we hope will come true, while intentions are specific and purposeful goals. Craft achievable intentions using areas of expertise found on the Therapy Connection Online website such as cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, or Gottman method couples therapy. This allows progress to be made incrementally in targeted areas for self-improvement with the guidance of a professional online therapist.

Flawed Thinking Around New Year’s Resolutions

Many popular New Year’s resolutions stem from negative thought patterns or societal expectations, rather than intrinsic personal goals. 

Some examples include:

  • Losing weight solely to reach an ideal appearance, not for health reasons
  • Giving up things you enjoy under the assumption that self-denial is noble
  • Feeling pressured to learn new skills because “everyone else is doing it”
  • Pursuing financial gain over personal fulfillment or passion projects

These perspectives overlook the factors that actually motivate human behavior change according to psychologists and neuroscientists. The lasting change occurs when we:

  • Have strong underlying reasons Why we want to change
  • Focus our goals on tangible actions within our control
  • Scaffold larger objectives into smaller achievable steps
  • Renew realistic intentions frequently for reinforcement
  • Incorporate internal and external accountability
  • Emphasize progress and self-compassion around perceived “failures” along the way

By employing these therapy techniques developed by our licensed professionals at Therapy Connection Online, you can set fruitful intentions heading into 2024.

Transforming Resolutions into Intentions through a SMART Goals Framework

SMART is an acronym for:






Applying these criteria when setting New Year’s intentions creates clearly defined roadmaps for growth. Let’s explore some examples across common resolution categories:

Health & Fitness Goals

Vague resolution: Lose 20lbs

S.M.A.R.T. intention: Walk 30 mins daily with 3 intense workout sessions/week over 6 months

The key distinction is emphasizing the process tied to an end result rather than just the end result. Progress tracking via lifestyle changes feels empowering whereas only fixating the number on a scale can invoke shame. Working with a therapist to navigate this thought process can be a helpful tool in building healthy relationships with food and body image.

Financial Aspirations

Vague resolution: Make more money

S.M.A.R.T intention: Finish my resume, apply to 5 jobs I’m qualified for weekly, evaluate offers after 6 months

Rather than worrying about factors outside your control, focusing efforts on targeted actions builds financial confidence. Speak with a therapist about your financial concerns and the goals you have so you can navigate the emotions tied to these goals. This will help to equip you with money management skills as well.

Relationship Growth

Vague resolution: Improve my relationship

S.M.A.R.T. intention: Schedule a weekly date night and enroll in couple’s counseling to strengthen communication skills over 3 months

Dedicate time to nurture intimacy and access proven techniques like the Gottman Method from some of our trained therapists. This is a technique created by founders Dr. Julie and Dr. Dan aimed at deeper understanding.

Life Balance & Stress Reduction

Vague resolution: Be less stressed

S.M.A.R.T. intention: Block off set hours for meals, hobbies, and self-care each day. Journal weekly to reflect on work-life balance and make adjustments over the next year as needed.

Our solution-focused brief therapy approaches develop customized stress management plans. Taking things day-by-day yields progress as well.


Crafting S.M.A.R.T Goals for Common New Year’s Resolutions

Area of life for self-improvement: _______________________________

The vague resolution I want to accomplish is:

My S.M.A.R.T. intention is to:

Specific actions I will take are:

Quantifiable measurements to track:

This aligns with my values/priorities because:

I will dedicate this amount of time weekly or over a defined period:


Revisiting Progress Frequently with a Therapist

Committing goals to paper is a pivotal first step. However, actively working towards S.M.A.R.T. intentions with ongoing adjustments is key for lasting transformation. Therapy Connection Online allows you to message your dedicated therapist anytime via our secure portal. Schedule video sessions weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for motivation and guidance. Avoid getting overwhelmed by revisiting bigger resolutions without professional support. Our online platform remains committed to making mental healthcare accessible year-round.

Ready to build on your best self in 2024? Browse our specialty areas and psychiatric expertise regions covered: Contact us to be matched with a licensed mental health counselor equipped to champion your growth journey through compassionate coaching and proven techniques. This year, move forward with clarity of purposeful intention instead of arbitrary resolutions. Incremental progress accumulates over time anchored in self-care and unwavering commitment.


Check out some insightful blogs from our website that can further enhance your journey of self-discovery and personal growth:


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