It’s that time of year again…Christmas has come and gone and now your social media is starting to flood with New Year’s resolutions from your friends who promise to lose weight, get more organized or quit smoking. Sadly, many of those hopes for a better year will subside before winter’s even over. The reason New Year’s resolutions rarely come to be is because they are said on a whim without the proper planning and thought needed to accomplish them.

Goals on the other hand are carefully thought out. They combine the present and future into a detailed blueprint for success. A good goal sets a specific measure of accomplishment bound by a time frame in which it will be achieved. The best goals are coupled with an action plan to turn each of those desires into a reality. I learned how to set SMART goals while going door to door selling coupons. I can honestly say it was a life changing concept.

S (Specific)

A person rarely gets into their vehicle and just starts driving. They usually have a specific destination in mind and reason why they need to go there. Goals work much the same way. When writing goals for the New Year, one must define the who, what, where, when and how of each task. Think about exactly what it is you want to accomplish, define the details and put them in writing.

M (Measurable)

Imagine a football game without a first down marker? A stated desire for change without a clearly defined measure of success makes about as much since. It is not enough to simply say you want to do something. In order to be successful in accomplishing a new venture, one must define what success will look like. For example, in lieu of saying I want to lose weight in 2017, a SMART goal is I WILL lose 15 lbs by March 2017 by eating less than 1,500 calories per day and jogging at least 1 mile every morning at 7am. Define the finish line and set a plan to cross it.

A (Action Oriented)

A sound goal must describe a result of action. Saying something like, “I want to be a better person in 2017” does not define success nor allow for a plan of action to attain that goal. Following the first two steps above makes it easier to develop and detail the action needed to achieve those specific measurements of success. Action is what differentiates the thinkers from the doers. “A goal without action is just a wish.”

R (Realistic)

Accomplishing a planned goal is a great feeling. Falling short of a planned goal after giving it your all can also be a great feeling as one usually finds themselves closer to success then they would have been if they undercut themselves. Goals must be realistic. Just like the three bears, goals must be just right. Setting an unattainable goal can be just as damaging as setting a goal that is too easily reached. The best goals are based in reality, not emotions or how it’s always been. The world is ever evolving and so too must our goals if we wish to achieve success. Time spent in researching the facts surrounding one’s goals helps to eliminate the distractions of life and have a realistic conversation with one’s self regarding what can and should be accomplished in the near future.

T (Time Bound)

Good goals have a time clock on them. Without set time frames, the “I’m gonnas” never turn into the “I haves.” Each goal is different with respect to the realistic time frame needed to allow for success. A great example of this is the hit TV show, The Biggest Loser. In each episode, the trainer gives the contestant a goal for the given time frame before the next episode. Each episode is a piece of the whole much like time bound goal setting. This is why many top leaders suggest 30, 60, 90, 1 year and 5 year goals. Great accomplishments do not happen overnight. SMART goal setting allows one to carefully plan long term success through a compilation of smaller accomplishments needed to reach long term success.

As we turn the page on yet another year, I am working to complete my own written goals for this coming year. I break up my goals into three categories: personal, professional and financial because I feel it is important to push myself outside of the office as well. I have found that sharing my goals with others helps to stay focused since it forces accountability. Regardless of how you do it, if you really want to see change in 2017 then you must take the time to truly think and plan out your year. Without the proper time put in up front, goals turn into resolutions and we all know how that story ends.

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