New Year resolutions failed already? Set goals instead.

set goals

So here we are in the second week of January. How are those resolutions going? If you are like myself and many others you had a go at setting a couple of New Year resolutions. If you are still like the majority, then your resolution may well have already been forgotten or given up. Am I right? Why is that? Why is it that our good intentions at the beginning of the year so quickly come crashing down? Well, that’s because what we are usually doing is making a wish rather than setting a goal.

At this point we are too far in to January to be making any resolutions, but what about goals? We can set goals at any time. We can set yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals and we can set them at any time of the year we want. So, have your New Year resolutions disappeared like the last New Years’s Eve firework? Do we just accept the fact that it is too hard to do and forget about the whole thing? No, I don’t think that will help. Experts agree that those who have goals and consistently work towards them achieve far more than those who do not. It’s now time to stop and have a good think about what you actually want to achieve in the year ahead and set some goals around that.

Changing the name to goal setting without knowing what that means will not ensure success. A few important things need to be considered.

Firstly, a goal must be written down. Leaving our goals swimming around in our heads and not written clearly on paper is one of the best ways to ensure they will never happen. We need to be able to refer to them regularly and alter them if required and the only way to do this is if they are carefully written where we can read them.

Secondly, there is a SMART way to write our goals. Whilst the exact words used for each step do alter slightly depending upon who you consult, the meaning is the same.

SMART goals must be:
S- Specific
M- Measurable
A- Achievable
R- Relevant
T- Timebound

Let’s take for example the goal : This year I want to get fit. In its current form this is not a SMART goal. If we leave this goal the way it is, there is no way in the world that in 12 months time we will be any fitter than we are today and we will find ourselves at the beginning of next year making the same sort of wishy washy goal again without much hope we will succeed.

What is wrong with this goal?
It is not specific. What exactly does ‘get fit’ mean?
It is not measurable. How will we know when we have achieved it?
Is it achievable? Yes, I am sure it can be done assuming we can pin down exactly what it is we want to achieve.
Is it relevant? Well, as long as it is a goal being set by ourselves for our own benefit, then yes it would be.
Is it timebound? No, there is no date set for its completion.

Let’s apply the SMART system to our goal of ‘This year I want to get fit’ and see where we end up. We need to do a bit of thinking around this goal before we can make it SMART. What does getting fit look like?  Perhaps it is being able to run in a fun run with the kids. How do we measure our success? Is it simply completing the run or do we set a specific time for running the race? How do we know if we can achieve it? Are we uninjured and have we left ourselves enough time to train? Will it be relevant? Is this something we really want to do or are we doing it for someone else’s reasons? By when do we want to achieve this goal? Can we set a realistic date for completion?

A SMART goal for ‘This year I want to get fit’ might then be:
By April 1st I will be able to run 4km without stopping.

This goal is specific: It has exactly what is to be achieved: Run 4km.
It can be measured: We can either run the 4km without stopping or we can not.
It is attainable: It is possible in the time allocated.
It is relevant: Perhaps we want to be able to participate in the local fun run with the children so it is relevant to our life at the moment.
It is timebound: There is a date attached so that we know we have achieved it.

This specific SMART goal gives the goal setter a reason to work on this now rather than at some vague time in the future. Do you see how this goal gives us the framework required to put processes in place to achieve our ‘wish’?

Have a think about what you want to achieve this year and do these things.
1) Decide what you want to achieve
2) Create a SMART goal around that achievement
3) Write the goal down
4) Refer to it regularly

Turn your wish for the new year into a SMART goal and achieve great things in your life this year.