Why do resolutions fail? Too often, it is because the goals are too generic — such as, “I want to lose weight,” or far too ambitious and borderline impossible. Because of this, we hardly ever achieve what we set out to do. I do not think the problem lies in the concept of a resolution itself, because at their core, they are a very good thing. The problem, rather, is that we don’t know how to set good goals. In my experience, the best way to set a new goal is to make is a S.M.A.R.T goal, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Based, and Time-bound. In the paragraphs that follow, I will expand more on each category.
First, let’s begin with specific. If we set a specific goal, this eliminates the risk of creating a goal that is too generic, which leads to us not knowing when we have achieved it, but this will come into play later. If a goal is specific, we are able to know exactly what we are working toward. This allows us to focus our efforts and removes any ambiguity, and keeps us locked in on whatever our end game is.
Second, the goal should be measurable. In terms of the S.M.A.R.T. goal system, this works in conjunction with the “specific” element of the acronym. If a goal is specific, then it should also be measurable or quantifiable. In essence, you should know when the goal is achieved based upon this provision. For example, rather than saying “I want to lose weight” you should say “I want to lose 20 pounds” because by setting this type of goal, you know when it is achieved. This gives you a specific target to focus on in order to narrow your parameters.
The next aspect of a S.M.A.R.T. goal is that it is achievable. To look at it another way, the goal should be realistic. This requires you taking a step back and making an honest assessment about yourself. Typically, a goal is meant to challenge an individual, and this is a good thing. However, you shouldn’t make the goal so out of reach that you would never be able to reach it. Again, the obstacles you place before yourself should be challenging, but not insurmountable.
The fourth component of is that it should be results-based, or relevant This in a way ties to the “measurable” aspect from earlier. In short, the goal should measure the ends, not the means. This step basically means that when you reach the goal, it should be apparent to you. The basis of completion should be on the grounds that you got there, not necessarily how you did so, unless this is encompassed within the original goal. You should be able to evaluate your success or failure based upon the result it produces.
Finally, a goal should be time-bound. With a New Year’s resolution, the timeframe of a year is likely sufficient for the purposes of setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal. If a goal is time-based, this is used as a parameter under which the accomplishment of the goal is examined. In order to know if a goal has been reached, we need both a task and a deadline. If a goal is time-bound, we set for ourselves a deadline by which the task we hope to accomplish is to be completed. This makes the attainment of the goal two-fold: we complete the task we set out to do, and we do so in the time allotted.
The implementation of a S.M.A.R.T. goal allows us to better refine the way we seek to set our own personal objectives. This narrowing of our focus allows us to better achieve our goals because we know what we are to achieve and when we want to achieve it. It allows us to know when we have reached our goal and truly see and feel the satisfaction of finally climbing the peak of whatever mountain we set out to climb. My suggestion for this year is that you decide to create a S.M.A.R.T. resolution so that you don’t find yourself wondering where the commitment has gone or where you went wrong along the way. With a specific, measurable, achievable, result-based, time-bound resolution, we can all set the foundation for a truly happy New Year.
Source used: http://www.hr.virginia.edu/uploads/documents/media/Writing_SMART_Goals.pdf