Each and every year, as December 31st approaches, many people start defining their resolutions for the new year to come. And every year, after a couple of weeks (or even days) those resolutions are put aside and forgotten. Why is that?
Well, the answer to that is a lot simpler than you may think. For once, people tend to make their resolutions too generic (such as join the gym, lose weight, etc.) and easy to break – specially if you define a resolution you know upfront you won’t be able to keep.
Besides that, most of those resolutions lack focus, risk and accountability, three essential factors to make sure you’ll actually stick to your words.
How can you overcome those bumps in the road and turn simple resolutions into attainable goals? Simple, be SMART.
What’s the difference between resolutions and goals?
If your new year’s resolutions are often generic ideas instead of defined goals you can set and meet, don’t sweat it, you’re not alone. The first mistake most people make with those generic ideas is that they don’t motivate behavior modification and, because of that, don’t help you focus on them and harness ambition to actually get there.
Classic new year’s resolutions, such as losing weight or being a better person are too generic and don’t come with everyday application points, which makes them a lot more difficult to turn into reality.
If you choose to approach those resolutions as attainable goals, however, you’ll find yourself setting reasonable, specifically worded goals that are a lot easier to achieve. Check out this example:
- Resolution: In 2017 I’ll join the gym;
- Goal: In 2017 I’ll join the gym XYZ in the yearly plan and commit to working out at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes each day.
Can you see how the goal and the resolution are essentially different? For starters, the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-limited (S.M.A.R.T.). You can still call them resolutions if that’s what you want but, if you want them to have any staying power, you’ll need to set smart goals.
Forget new year’s resolutions, set SMART goals instead!
By definition, a good and effective goal states who is responsible for the outcome as well as how they’re responsible for it. If you already apply this methodology to your everyday professional activities, why wouldn’t you do it to the goals you personally set for yourself?
When you set your new year’s resolutions, you automatically set yourself as responsible for those goals and now we’ll help you clearly define how you’ll compromise to meeting those goals from the moment you set them.
A realistic goal you can commit (and stick) to has the following characteristics:
- Specific: Good goals are specific. They clearly determine the whats, when, and whys of your generic resolution. Instead of giving you a generic hope you have for the future, it determines the steps you must take to get there;
- Measurable: If you want to set a good goal, you must define from the start what success looks like. You can do that by specifying a measurement. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, state that you want to lose 10 pounds. Being specific makes your goals a lot more effective.
- Attainable: It’s ok to set ambitious goals for yourself – as long as you can break them down into attainable steps you can gradually achieve. Instead of setting the ambitious goal of losing 20 pounds in a year, establish gradual goals: lose 5 pounds by February and, once you achieve that, you set a new goal of losing 5 more pounds until you can achieve your initially defined success measurement of losing 20 pounds.
- Realistic: More than just attainable, your goals must be realistic – they’re not only about goals you’re able to attain, you must be willing to attain them. If you’re not willing to do the sacrifice it takes for losing weight, don’t set that as a goal. Your goal must be something that excites and motivates you towards achieving it so, if you know beforehand you’re not willing to do what it takes to achieve it, don’t commit to it.
- Timely: Defining a timeframe for a goal makes it a lot more easy to achieve. Instead of saying you want to lose weight during the year, define that you want to lose 10 pounds before your birthday or a trip. Giving goals a timeframe will boost your motivation but don’t forget to set a reasonable, realistic timeframe.
Becoming suddenly idealistic when the new year is right around the corner is easy but, if you always keep in mind that the resolutions you set are a tool to help you become the person you want to be, you’ll find it easier to stay grounded.
By taking those lofty, generic new year’s resolutions and transforming them into SMART new year’s goals you’ll be giving them a much better chance of coming true.
Let’s make this exercise: this New Year’s Eve, take a moment to consider who you want to be in the feature and turn that idealistic concept into realistic goals to help fulfill your vision.