As we prepare to move into a new year, many will be reflecting on the year that has passed and perhaps be making decisions to make changes for the year ahead. Making New Year’s resolutions is something as old as time, and what most studies show is that, for many, resolutions are very short lived.
Why is that?
Let’s take a look at what most people to resolve to change. The most common resolutions are:
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Read more
- Travel more
- Make more time for family
- Save more money
- Start a new hobby or learn a new skill
- Get organized / declutter
- Eat healthier
- Volunteer more
When looking at the list we can see that these seem to be reasonable goals, however, most never get fully realized by those that make them. One reason I believe this to be true is that the goal may be too large to take on at one time or is not specific enough.
Let’s take a look at one of these goals to see what I mean. Let’s take #4 for example: travel more. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that you are going to plan to get away on weekends more? Or fly somewhere exotic once a month? It is very difficult to attain a goal that is not…well a goal. In order for something to be achieved successfully it needs to be fleshed out better in order to create a better picture in your mind, and therefore make the goal a reality. The way the goal is presented now is much akin to saying you need to go pick up a parcel in the city. Well, where is the parcel located, how are you going to get there and by what route? Those are things you would need to know in order to be successful in picking up the package.
It is the same way with “travel more”. If you wish to travel more you may want to state a few new places you wish to go, how much they are going to cost and by what method you are going to reach those destinations. The more detail, the more likely you will be able to work towards the goal.
There is, in fact, a “formula”, if you will, that can help you work towards achieving whatever goal it is that you are setting.
Goals should be:
Specific – the goal should be named “what”, “when” you wish to attain it by and “why”, and even “where” if it applies.
Measurable – You should be able to track how close or far away you are from your goal
Attainable – Don’t set a goal that cannot be met; you are only setting yourself up for failure
Realistic – set a goal that can actually be realized
Timely – Set a time that you wish to complete the goal in, also be prepared to be flexible
What you will notice is that these goal parameters also form an acronym to help you remember: SMART!
Let’s again use the travel one for example:
Specific – you wish to go to Mexico
Measurable – You can save the money, book the flight, and shop for items needed to travel
Attainable – this is a goal that is reasonable (for most) and can be realized
Realistic– For most, setting a goal of traveling to Mexico is realistic, traveling the world on a yacht may not be
Timely– you can plan to go in October giving you plenty of time to come up with the money and book the flights etc., but if need be you can extend the goal until November
Use this process for any goals you wish to achieve this coming year and you will have a greater chance at sticking to the goal and achieving it!