Within the next twenty-four hours, Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds will clog up with your friends and family announcing their New Year’s Resolutions. Statistic Brain reports that 45% of people usually make resolutions and17% infrequently make resolutions. Only 8% of those who set goals have success with their resolutions. With such low success rates, it seems that the seeds of change are planted on infertile ground. Maybe setting a resolution is nothing more than a feel-good act to end the year.
According to Statistic Brain, the Top 10 resolutions are:
- Losing weight
- Getting organized
- Spend less, save more
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Staying fit and healthy
- Learn something exciting
- Quit smoking
- Help others in their dreams
- Fall in love
- Spend more time with family
The Top 10 look like admirable ambitions and each contributes to a healthy future and improved relationships. So what goes wrong?
“People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions,” (Italics mine). I suspect that therein lies the problem. We need to be explicit in our goal setting.
In my day job, the one that pays me so I can live a nice life while I call myself a writer, we have spent a considerable length of time zoning in on SMART Goals. If you are one of the 62% of people who could be making goals, consider using this strategy to make your goals explicit and increase your chances of success in 2013.
SMART is an acronym. Each letter stands for a reference point to reflect your goals upon.
S – Specific. A generalized goal will not be achieved. “Get organized” is not specific. In what areas are you disorganized? Try something like “I will clear my desk nightly, putting each item in it’s assigned space.”
M – Measurable. How will you know you have achieved your goal if you don’t have a yard stick to measure it by. “Spend more time with family” might be specific, but isn’t measurable. “Spend at least two Saturdays each month visiting with our parents” is both specific, and measurable.
A – Ambitious. Most SMART goals reflect this letter as “attainable” but I like to see it stepped up a notch. Make your goal Ambitious. I suspect that each of us wants more out of life. “Enjoy life to the fullest” is not specific or measurable. It might be achievable, but it’s too vague. Just ask yourself as you work through goal setting, “How will I know I have achieved my goal?”
R – Realistic. “Fall in love.” That’s a lofty resolution. Is it achievable? Sure, but can you make it happen? Love is a choice, not a feeling, and can occur when you make choices that are specific and measurable.
T – Time Sensitive. Do you have a deadline for your goal? Personally, I work better under the pressure of a deadline. If I am not given one, odds are, you might not get the work done. If you aren’t concerned about a deadline, why should I be? The same works with goals. Give yourself a deadline line and stick to using the other steps, S, M, A, and R.
Take the number one goal that people set for themselves, “Lose Weight,” and look at what a SMART goal looks like:
New Year’s Resolution, 2013: Lose 35 pounds this year, 15 pounds by March 31.
Method: I will lose 35 pounds this year by purchasing a gym membership and attending the gym at least 3 times each week combining weights and cardio and going for a nightly walk at least 3 times each week. I will set daily meal plans for the coming week each Sunday night. I will have a weekly weigh-in at home at 8:00 a.m. each Monday morning.
Now take that goal and measure it against SMART
S – Specific – check
M – Measurable – check
A – Ambitious – check
R – Realistic – check
T – Time sensitive – check
If you need help with your goal setting, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do what I can to help you achieve your goals. Hey, isn’t that the #8 goal?
Everyone has a story, you can plot yours out to be a success story in the new year.