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.