Vail Daily column: What’s in a resolution?
OK, by show of hands, how many of you made a New Year’s resolution? Good, that’s more than I would have guessed. But did you know only about 65 percent of us actually make New Year’s resolutions and just 10 percent of those are successful in keeping them?
So what about you, what’s your New Year’s resolution? More importantly, how do you plan to keep it; because without a specific plan that you can measure and track, you’re likely to become one of the 90 percent with broken resolutions.
In a past life, I was the CEO of an insurance brokerage in Denver. Each year my management team and I would gather for a planning meeting wherein we set goals and created a game plan to meet them. And while a goal and a resolution are different animals, the methods used to achieve or keep them are just about the same.
In our case, we established SMART goals as a means to clarify ideas, focus our efforts, and make the best use of time and resources. And what exactly do I mean by SMART goals? SMART is an acronym that can be traced to business guru, Peter Drucker’s, “Management by Objective” concept.
The acronym SMART was created using the first letter of five adjectives that are actually a set of criteria.
• Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
• Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
• Achievable (agreed upon and attainable).
• Relevant (reasonable, realistic and results-based) and lastly,
• Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive.)
Keep in mind the closer we follow SMART criteria the better chance we have of accomplishing our goal. So let’s look at each individually and how they might apply to our resolutions.
Specific — goals must be clear and specific, otherwise we won’t be able to focus our efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve them. We must ask ourselves, what is it that I want to accomplish, why is this goal important, and what resources or limits are involved.
Measureable — if a goal is not measurable, then we cannot track our progress, making it difficult to stay motivated. Assessing progress helps us to stay focused, meet deadlines and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving our goal or keeping a resolution.
Attainable — goals must to be realistic and attainable if we are to reach them. A goal should stretch our abilities but remain well within the realm of possibility. Ask yourself, how realistic is this goal based on other constraints or limits in my life, including financial factors. “I want to make a million dollars” may not be realistic or attainable for someone bagging groceries at City Market.
Relevant — This step ensures that your goal not only matters to you, but that it also aligns with other relevant goals. Questions to ask your self might include, “Is this goal worthwhile?” “Is this the right time to pursue it or, is the goal truly applicable in my current social and economic environment?”
Time-bound — Every goal needs a target date. Deadlines help us to focus and give us something to work toward. A time bound goal will usually answer these questions: To achieve my goal I need to do such and such today, such and such tomorrow, then such and such next week, next month, six months from now, etc.
Allow me to illustrate. The No. 1 resolution Americans make is to lose weight, so let’s examine how making this a SMART goal gives us our best chance of keeping that resolution. Just saying we’re going to lose weight isn’t specific, but resolving to lose 12 pounds is. However, that still doesn’t make it SMART. “I will lose 12 pounds by June 30 is a SMART goal because it’s specific, it can be measured (lose pounds per month for six months) and assuming your doctor is in agreement, it’s realistically attainable and relevant to your heath and of course it’s time bound, i.e., 2 pounds per month for six months.
Now all that’s needed is to spell out the specifics. You may choose not to eat between meals, or no second helpings, or perhaps you decide to substitute fish for meat once a week; whatever works for you. And by laying your goals out in that manner you’re actually giving yourself a road map to follow.
But a word of caution: Beware of setting goals that someone else has power over. For example, a goal of getting a promotion is certainly a noble and worthy, but in most cases, achieving that goal will depend upon your boss or supervisor or perhaps who else is applying for the job. However, “Get the experience and training I need to be considered for that promotion” can be a SMART goal.
So there you have it, and now that you’ve made your resolutions it can’t hurt to be SMART about them.
Quote of the day: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”—Wayne Gretzky
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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