We’re well into the new year. How are those new year resolutions coming along? You know, the ones you made on New year’s day to lose a little weight, go to church more, become an award winning executive, etc.
If you’re like most people who make resolutions, you were probably quite diligent for the first week or two. And then…life happened. It was wedding season so there was food everywhere and you couldn’t stick to your diet plans. This new boss came in that doesn’t like you, so there’s no way you’re getting that promotion. Your Christmas bills finally caught up with you so there’s barely enough for daily life, much less that new car you wanted to save for.
Stuff happens, that’s just how life goes. However, you can still make goals and achieve them – the hard part is usually staying on track.
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals:
If you’ve ever taught decision-making or worked in process improvement as I have, that is one of our most fundamental concepts.
One of the worst things you can do to yourself when setting goals is to have a vague and undefined one. “I want to keep fit this year” is probably one of the most common goals known to mankind, but what does that really mean? You might not be overweight, but even then, I imagine your definition of “fit” would be fairly different from Serena Williams’.
So undoubtedly, you have to come up with a goal that is specific and makes sense for you.
Can you allocate a specific number or value to your goals? If not, it probably isn’t measureable and that could make it difficult to track. Even if you “just want to be healthy” that it fairly hard to measure, so it makes sense to have a specific weight goal e.g. lose 10kg OR even one related to fitness level e.g. swim 10 laps in one session.
Yes, we all want to look like Superman or Wonder Woman, but let’s be real here.
What are the chances you can pull that off around your work schedule and social commitments? There’s nothing wrong with working towards a goal you are more likely to achieve. And if you’re still determined to go for that Superman body, good for you. Just be prepared to eat, sleep, and breathe your fitness regimen – because though it won’t be easy, it can be achieved with a lot of discipline.
Don’t just do stuff because your mother told you. Yes, listen to good advice, but if you are a grown adult you are far less likely to achieve a goal if it isn’t of personal interest to you – financial, aspirational, or otherwise. If you work in a unit you hate, just how motivated will you be to work for that promotion? It doesn’t mean you should quit your job today (in this economy?) but your time might be better served identifying roles in other departments or organisations that actually appeal to you. Having a light at the end of the tunnel can motivate you to work harder in pursuit of your own dreams
Yes, there needs to be a time restriction. Otherwise goals casually flow from one year to the next without actually being achieved. You just dust them off and reset them for the following year. While it’s easy to say, “I’ll achieve XYZ by the end of the year”, before you know it you’re asking “Where did the time go?”.
Try dividing your big goal into smaller milestones. For instance, your weight loss goal of 12kg won’t be achieved overnight. Why not aim to lose 1kg a month? That feels a whole lot less intimidating and you have a shorter period of time to assess if your diet and exercise activities are actually working.
Regardless of your goals, making them SMART allows you to assess your progress and continuously improve. Just remember that you can handle whatever life throws at you.
How are you doing so far with your goals? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading my post! I occasionally write about process improvement, data-driven decision-making, and customer experience – particularly related to managing small and medium sized businesses.