How to Make Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

SMART-Goals

For the past five years, I’ve always written down three or so New Year’s resolutions. By mid-January, I have usually forgotten them, or given up because they just seem impossible. This year, I’m adopting a new approach – my goals are going to be S.M.A.R.T.

The concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals was originally presented in 1981 by George T. Doran in an issue of Management Review. I’m sure he didn’t publish that article intending to help me accomplish my goal to learn Portuguese, but hey, when it works, it works!

Let’s get down to basics. What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for? Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely. Using this acronym as a guide, you can refine your goals into manageable tasks that will actually get done.

Here is an example:

Which of the following resolutions is more likely to get accomplished:

– Get organized.

or

 – Clean off desk and file 2015 papers by February 1, 2016.

Of course, choice number two is more realistic because it is a defined, achievable goal. “Get organized” is vague and daunting; where would you even start?

Let’s talk about how you can apply S.M.A.R.T. thinking to your goals for the next year.

Specific: When you think of a goal, ask yourself if you can boil that idea down to its core. Start with “I want to get better at marketing,” and then get specific: “I want to implement email marketing and get 100 new Facebook followers each month.”

Measurable: This one can be tricky, but no matter what the goal is, you have to give yourself a way to measure progress. In the easiest sense, this would be, “I want to lose five pounds by April.” In that example, you have an exact number to go by for measuring your success. However, not every instance is so easy. If your goal is something like, “Become a better boss,” you will have to get creative in coming up with a system of measuring that makes sense for you.

Attainable: Sure, we’d all love to achieve world peace. But if we set our sights too high, we might get discouraged by lack of progress. Instead, create goals that are realistic, yet still push you to new heights. “I’m going to attend at least six educational seminars this year,” or “I will save enough money for a trip to Spain by July,” are both great examples of attainable goals.

Relevant: Establishing goals that are truly relevant is key to sticking to your guns. Relevance is determined by looking at the bigger picture – where do you want to be in five years? How does this goal contribute to your long-term business plan? It’s easy to make resolutions that sound fun in the moment, but really analyzing the impact over time will tell you if that goal is going to keep you motivated.

Timely: It is absolutely essential that you set timelines for each of your goals and resolutions. The best way to hold yourself accountable is to have a deadline approaching. This helps with the measurable side of things, as well, because you have specific parameters for your measurement. Also, creating time-driven goals helps you break down larger goals into manageable chunks. Rather than, “I’m going to follow-up with every contact this year,” break that down into, “By March 31, I will have emailed and called everyone in my SAGE Online CRM.”

By implementing the S.M.A.R.T. method in planning your New Year’s resolutions and this year’s business goals, you should be able to stay on track and get more accomplished. Won’t it feel great to check these items off your list rather than feeling guilty for not following through? I know I’m looking forward to tackling my Portuguese skills and planning a trip to Brazil to celebrate!

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comments!

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