By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With the start of 2017, millions of Americans will be making New Year’s resolutions.

For Americans who made resolutions for 2016, about a third of them said they never made it to their goal.

“I think the challenge is often times we may not be motivated to change, and that’s part of the reason why they fail so frequently,” said University of St. Thomas psychology professor Dr. John Tauer.

For the 68 percent who said they kept at least part of their resolution, experts say they likely had a more specific approach. Tauer suggests his students make “Smart” goals.

The Smart Method requires a goal to meet five criteria: be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.

“If it has those five qualities typically that provides us with a context we can evaluate ‘how am I doing,’” Tauer said.

For example, if the goal is to pay off student loans or a mortgage, make it more specific by calculating how much you can realistically pay off in one year. Then break that down to how much you need to put aside in savings each day.

Tauer says the biggest factor of following through on a goal is not the calendar day, but asking if you are in a good place mentally to make a change.

“Stepping back and saying, ‘do I want to change,’ because humans are capable of enormous change — when we really want to,” he said.

A new poll by Marist shows being a better person is the most popular resolution for 2017. More exercise and weight loss tied for second.

Kate Raddatz