Resolution…Or Goal?









Right about this time of year, many folks around the country (if not the world) form one or more “New Year’s Resolutions” to accomplish something or things in the coming year.

I’m going to eat better and lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking.

I’m going to go to church more often.

I’m going to…(insert well-meaning objective here).

You’ve done them.  I’ve done them.  It’s almost a ritual in our society.  Yet for as many people who actually make them, only 8% are considered successful in achieving their resolutions (according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, December 2012).  Is this fairly low success rate due to lack of commitment?  Maybe, but I’d also like to offer that another reason for such a ridiculous success rate is that people are creating resolutions that are merely great ideas (if not wishes), rather than a concerted, concrete goal to achieve in the coming year.

Rather than create another resolution that, statistically, you’ll most probably bomb on in the next 30 days, try creating a SMART Goal for yourself.  SMART is an acronym that goes something like this:

S – Specific.  Give it some thought…what do you actually, really want to achieve?  Losing weight, ending a bad habit or creating a new, positive habit?  Take a trip to your dream destination?  Throw the most amazing birthday party of your life?  Those are all things you could do, but the first step is to figure out exactly what you want to do.

M – Measureable.  You must have a quantitative measure to know if your goal is a success.  I want to lose weight is not enough, because with that all you have to do is lose an ounce and you’ve technically achieved your goal.  A better goal would say I want to lose 30 pounds.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

A – Attainable.  I had an old boss who used to tell me about my wide-eyed, bushy-tailed goals, “Scott, no ‘pie in the sky’ goals.  You’re setting yourself up for failure.”  He wasn’t being a pessimist…he had just had the experience and worked with enough guys like myself at the time to know that I was shooting myself in the foot.  What’s the point of setting a goal that you can’t reach.  Yes, I’m all for creating stretch goals and really having to work to achieve something truly worth the result.  But don’t put your goal so far out of reach that you end up missing it and discouraging yourself.  I want to lose 30 pounds in the next 30 days. Morale fail.

R – Relevant.  The goal ultimately has to matter to you in some way, shape, or form.  You have to find some kind of benefit to help you realize that the juice was worth the squeeze (as it were).  Whether your success is tangible or intangible, you need to be able to savor the thrill of victory…or the sting of agony if you miss it.  Losing 30 pounds carries all sort of health benefits to me, so it’s very relevant.

T – Timely.  Your goals must have some kind of deadline attached.  I want to lose 30 pounds is a great start, but it lacks any kind of finish line. (Otherwise, if I attain it in 30 years, then technically I’ve succeeded…but let’s face it, if you need to lose 30 pounds, then 30 years probably isn’t a realistic timeframe.)  However, if you say I want to lose 30 pounds in the next six months, then you’re onto something.

One more thing I want to add that’s not a part of this equation…find yourself an accountability partner to keep you honest and on-track to achieve your goals.  Very few of us possesses the discipline to make it happen on our own.  Find someone you can check in with maybe weekly or every other week, and give them permission to ask you the tough questions about your progress.  You just might find yourself crossing the finish line with your New Year’s SMART Goals in 2013.

QUESTION:  What are your SMART Goals for 2013?  Respond in a comment below.


The Difference

I’ve often thought about what it means to be a professional.  Is there any kind of philosophical difference between being an employee and being a professional?  As I’ve turned this over throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is, in fact, a difference between the two.  And it boils down to one simple yet profound word.


The word “passion” has become associated with many ideas and areas.  Those in the Christian faith recall the passion of Jesus during that first Easter weekend.  Two lovers experience passion for one another, which typically involves the physical, erotic stage of romance.  But the passion I’m thinking of deals more with that which drives a person to excel and be the best he or she can be.

The difference between an employee and a professional is passion.  An employee approaches his job as a hired hand, somebody who clocks in for a few hours each day or night, fulfills a list of job responsibilities, and gets paid periodically.  A professional can also clock in, fulfill job responsibilities, and gets paid periodically…but they are so much more.  They don’t see themself as a hired hand; rather, the professional sees themself as an intergral part of the organization.  Their job might be done at the end of the shift, but the work isn’t.  The professional strives to be the best, do the best, and produce the best.  She works in such a way that she can sign her name on each and every day of work as if that name is a personal seal or guarantee of excellence.

I had a 6th grade teacher who used to tell our class, “Don’t be satisifed with mediocrity.”  The professional isn’t satisifed with the status quo; to the contrary, she becomes a student of her trade or craft.  The professional seeks to become better in his career or work, not being content to rely on his boss to provide training but also seeking out ways to acquire training on his own.  The reason is simple: they are obligated to give the best return for their company’s investment.  Doing one’s best isn’t just a priority…it’s THE priority.

There’s a lot more I could share along these lines, but for now it suffices to say that the great difference between employees and professionals is a very simple word with profound consequence – passion.

QUESTION:  How do you define “passion” in your own life?