by Allison Hadley, Clinical Intern at Owens & Associates

Did you know that of all the people who make New Year’s Resolutions, only 64% last a month and only 46% by the six-month mark? That might seem like a grim outcome, but this can be changed. We can want things in our lives to change, but just wishing them doesn’t make them come true.

            In counseling, creating goals is one of the first things we do with clients. What changes do you want to see in your life, and how will you know when you have achieved them? Many counselors and business professionals use a tool called S.M.A.R.T. goals to help flesh out their plan. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely or Time-bound. This week, we will start with S., Specific:

            “I want to be happy” is a nice thought, but it isn’t a goal. To make goals, they need to be more specific. This includes asking yourself many questions: What would make me happy? What am I doing in my life that causes me to be unhappy? What does happiness look like anyway? Is it even possible to be happy all the time? Who can help me with this? What obstacles will get in the way? How will I know when I’ve reached it?

            Once all these kinds of questions are answered, you can become more specific with your goal. Maybe feeling unhappy is because of your job, or feeling lonely and isolated from friends, or displeased with not exercising enough, or because of financial difficulties. All these can become specific goals:

            “I am overstressed in my current job and feel unappreciated, even after talking to my employer about it. I want to find a new position in my field in six months.”

            “Because I am feeling lonely, I will strengthen my current friendships or find new social supports by putting myself out there more.”

            “I feel unhappy because I think I’m being too lazy; I will start exercising more, at a minimum of 2x a week”.

            “I’ve been struggling financially, so I want to get my finances under control and create a feasible budget within a year.”


            What are some wishes, dreams, or other things in your life you want to be changed? Take a moment to consider what you can do to make them more specific. And remember, your counselor can help with finding and achieving your goals! Next time, we’ll focus on the M., Measurable.