Making Goals and Sticking with Them

By Heather Crane. December 31, 2018.

It’s the New Year, and with that comes countless New Year’s resolutions, most of which will be dropped by February.  Let this be the year you set yourself up for success.  Studies in Psychology show that habits often take 66 days¹ to form, and up to 254 days² for tougher habits.  Two easy models to create and keep your goals are the SMART goal system and the GROW model.


If you are unfamiliar with SMART goals, here is a brief overview. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Based. 


Specific: Goals are clear and understandable; not up to interpretation.

Measurable: What criteria tells you that your goal has been met?

Action-Oriented: Are there steps you can take to achieve your goal?

Realistic: Is it something you are able to do reasonably?  Is it healthy for you physically and mentally?

Time-Based: Have you set a time frame?  This is important as without a time frame, people may not prioritize their steps in reaching their goals.

Ultimately, when you set these SMART goals, you need to set an outcome.  Do your goals reasonably match outcomes you want?  If you are struggling with finding your ultimate outcome of what you want, consider the GROW model.

The GROW Model

The GROW Model stands for Goals, Reality, Options, and Will.


Goal: Take a moment to reflect and clear your mind.  Then, write down (with pen and paper) all goals that come to your mind.  Whether they are small, large, achievable, extravagant—write it down.  This process can take days or weeks.  Then, when reviewing these goals, begin to filter them by what you are drawn to most.  Eventually, you can bring your list to a few goals, and create achievable outcomes that you are passionate about.

Reality: Look at your current situation.  What needs to take place for you to meet those goals?

Options: Here, you can map out some pathways to view your options.  Think about the opportunities you have, and the potential obstacles.  What could be achieved if those obstacles are removed?

Will:  How can you keep yourself motivated?  What is truly drawing you to these goals?  Remember, willpower alone is often not enough, so it is important to identify what situations may bring you back to your old habit or lifestyle that you are trying to change.


¹ Gardner, Benjamin; Lally, Phillippa; Wardle, Jane P.  “Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice.”  British Journal of General Practice.  Volume 62, No. 605, pp 664-666. 2012.  DOI 10.3399/bjgp12X659466

² Lally, Phillippa; van Jaarsveld, Cornelia H.M.; Potts, Henry W.W.; Wardle, Jane.  “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.”  European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 40, Issue 6. 2010  DOI 10.1002/ejsp.674