If you’re inspired by the new year and want to make positive changes, don’t make resolutions. They don’t work. We want the end result. We’re just not truly committed to doing the work needed to get there.
Keep reading, though. This isn’t a free pass on efforts toward self-improvement.
Set a goal. Not just any goal. A SMART goal. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. Unlike a resolution, a SMART goal has a built-in plan associated with it, so you can get to work and map your progress from Day 1.
“I want to lose 10 pounds” is a goal, but not a SMART goal. A SMART goal goes something like this: “I want to lose 10 pounds in two months. I will do this by giving up soda. I will stop putting sugar in my coffee. I will take the dog on a half-hour walk five days a week.”
See the difference?
Next, tell other people about your goal. This keeps you accountable and makes it real. If the goal is a professional one, work it into your annual review, or share it with a co-worker or manager. You may get the satisfaction of not just achieving the goal, but a bonus or recognition from your employer.
Remember that one mistake does not scrap the plan. If you had a bad morning and lose ground, don’t wait until tomorrow to pick back up. A mistake only lasts as long as you stay in that moment. Move on immediately and put distance between you and the fall back.
Progress comes in small steps. To paraphrase Henry Ford: “If you can only see obstacles, you have taken your eye off the goal.” Don’t get hung up on the challenges. Focus on the victory, why you are working to achieve it and how amazing it will feel when you get there. Tackle one attainable task at a time. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. You’ll overwhelm yourself and have a greater chance of quitting.
Once you’re just about to accomplish your goal, set another one. Success begets success, so don’t just sit back and savor the moment, chase that adrenaline rush so you’re moving from one accomplishment to the next.
I’d love to hear what your goals are and if you achieve them. If you want to make me the person you share your 2014 plan with, so I can hold you accountable, email me at Christy.firstname.lastname@example.org. Make 2014 your SMARTest year yet.
Do you set SMART goals? Please tell us how it works for you in the comment space below.