SMARTER Resolutions

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Lots of people set New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Unfortunately, most people don’t achieve their resolutions as they tend to declare broad goals without any details on the how and when.

Setting goals which are more achievable can be done using the SMARTER acronym:


Be quite specific about the goal. For example, “I will reduce my LDL cholesterol by at least 1 mmol/L in the next six months by reducing my saturated fat intake and increasing my mono- and poly-unsaturated fat intake”. While this is a specific goal, it’s still a big picture goal. When we get down to A for Action we’ll add in strategies to achieve the goal.


Check to see how often you do the task or achieve the outcome. In my example I’ll be able to monitor my actions on a daily or weekly basis.


At least one action needs to be done to achieve a goal. “I’ll swap butter and coconut oil for an olive oil or canola margarine spread, use olive oil instead of lard when I fry, avoid pastry, and cut the fat off my meat.”


It needs to be an achievable task to avoid the feeling of failure – give a rating out of 10, where 1 is not achievable at all and 10 is highly achievable. If you rate your goal as 6 or less it means it probably isn’t very realistic for you at this time. Either reconsider the goal or consider how you might make it easier to achieve.

Time limited

This gives a guide as to how long the goal will take. “I’ll buy the new items next week when I shop and keep buying them. Then I’ll review my LDL cholesterol level in six months time when I see the GP.”

Expect problems

Consider barriers and solutions to the barriers.  “I’ll talk to my family so they know why I’m making these changes and they can support and encourage me.”


At the end of the time limit check to see if the goal has been achieved. “I’ll check in with the doctor for a new cholesterol test in six months time.” Did you achieve it?  Yes or no? Now it’s time to start the process again, perhaps with a new goal or you might choose to modify this goal and continue.

Diabetes NSW & ACT run diabetes education and management programs such as the Desmond and Shop Smart programs which all include writing a SMARTER goal at the end of the session.  To book into one of our programs call the National Diabetes Helpline on 1800 637 700 and ask about programs in your area.

*This post was updated 26/11/2021

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