Happy New Year!
Are you thinking about making some resolutions this year? How about ditching the resolutions and do a little S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.
Definition of resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something
Definition of goal setting: the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and timeframes. When you decide on a financial change to save more money and then set a certain amount to save each month, this is an example of goal setting.
According to Brian Tracy (one of my favorites to follow on personal development and goal setting), you are 80% more likely to achieve your goals if they are written down.
Last year I cut up some small pieces of paper and wrote down some goals, personal and professional, which I wanted to accomplish over 2015 – 25 little pieces of paper to be exact.
It was a bit of an experiment really. I wanted to see what would happen if I would jot them down, put them in a mason jar and seal it for the year. I then opened it up on New Year’s Eve, read them again and then separated into 2 piles: Goals Achieved and Goals Missed. I was a bit disappointed in myself when I only had 5 pieces in the Goals Achieved pile, but after thinking about it, that wasn’t too shabby for never looking at them again for 364 days!
You see, in order to reach a specific goal (I mean really achieve it), you need to write it down and assess it every day, week or month depending on what your goal is and the timeframe you wish to reach it. This is where it is handy to follow S.M.A.R.T. goal setting; it’s an acronym for:
What exactly do you want to achieve? Do you want to lose weight, make more money? The more specific your description, the better your odds of getting what you want. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to drop 25 pounds by June so I can wear that sexy bikini to the pool”.
Measurable goals means that in your mind you will see, hear and feel what it is like to reach your goal. You will need to break your goal down into measurable steps, as well as evidence that the goal has been reached. Being happier is not evidence; wearing 2 sizes smaller in clothes because you stick to a healthy lifestyle by eating more veggies/lean protein and hitting the gym 3x+ per week is!
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining exactly what it is you want as well. Spelling out physical manifestations of your goal makes it clearer, and easier to reach.
Is your goal attainable? That means really looking into whether the goal is really acceptable to you. You need to weigh the effort, time and costs your goal will take against the obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don’t have time, money or a talent for what you want to achieve, then you will probably fail and feel miserable. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work towards something that may currently seem impossible. You can make it happen by planning smartly and working towards it! There is nothing wrong with shooting for the moon! As they say, if you fall short, you will land among the stars!
Why have a goal if the goal doesn’t matter. Does it line up with your long term objectives or will it take you off track to what your main goal is and cause you to lose focus on what really matters?
The main questions again are: Why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really help me achieve that?
This is huge, time is money! Make a tentative plan of the steps you are doing to reach your goals. Deadlines really help people jump into action. It is important to create deadlines for each of your goals and don’t say “next month”, assign a specific day of the month and maybe even a time of the day to have it done by. Be sure to keep the timeline realistic though. If you want to start earning an additional $5,000 per month, it may not be realistic to do that in a couple weeks. If you keep the timeline realistic your chances of reaching it by the timeline is doable.