Have a SMART New Year!
I rarely hear anyone talk about making "New Years Resolutions" anymore. A few years ago, I began to notice this trend, and began to ask, "why?" The most popular opinion is "no one ever keeps them." I do. Well, I do and I don't.
Let me explain.
I like to challenge myself. And like most people, I enjoy personal accomplishments. And like most people, I don't like to fail. So, every year in late December, I do a little self-evaluation. Taking an honest inventory of yourself spiritually, physically, and emotionally, leads you into personal health and growth. A part of this process is to set 1-5 goals in the areas of Spiritual, Physical, Vocational (in my case "church"), and Personal/Family. Then I ensure that each of these goals is a SMART goal. In case you're not familiar with the idea of SMART goals, here's how I break it down. Be sure that each goal is...
Specific. The reason why most of us don't reach our goals is because we don't actually set them. I have aspirations that we call goals: "to lose weight..." "to be nicer..." "to be closer to God..." Things like this are definitely good ideas, and great things to aspire to, but they are not a goal. Be specific with your goal: How much weight? What does "nicer" look like? How will you know you're closer to God? Don't generalize. Be specific.
Measurable. A goal has to be measurable, or else how could you know whether you hit that goal or not? Ask yourself, what specifically am I setting out to accomplish - what is the "win?" - and how can I measure that? What are the "amounts" involved?
Attainable. (yet stretches you) - For most of our goals, we don't really want something that's too easy. But we also have become conditioned to always seek the easiest way. Deep down inside, you know that the easy way is not always the best way, and the best way is seldom the easy way. So set a goal that you're relatively certain you can attain.... WITH HARD WORK! I've discovered as I've reached goals that I obtained easier than I thought I could, that I tend to set next goals that stretch me even more.
Realistic. This is the biggie for me. I tend to believe that anything is possible. The goals that I have personally failed to reach, were almost 100% due to them not being realistic. We can beat ourselves up over this. Don't do that. Instead ask, "was this goal realistic?" This is where I get input from others. I always run all of my New Years Goals by my wife, the person who knows me better than anyone else! I also run them by someone I trust, a coach or mentor. When it comes to the vocational aspect, I've learned that leading as a team, instead of as THE sole leader, helps us set more realistic goals than if I set them by myself. I'm a dreamer, baby! ...Which means I need help keeping it realistic.
Time-bound. This is the WHEN question. It's not enough to say "This year, I plan to..." Put dates on your goals. For some goals I think monthly, for others quarterly, and others I simply put "Dec 31." This helps me think, "OK, what can I do today to be a step closer to that goal," keeping an eye on the calendar. Goals without a time-frame, are just ideas.
After I set these SMART goals, I spend some time developing a plan/strategy to see them become reality. This plan often includes smaller goals that lead to the larger ones. Then I do that thing that no one seems to do anymore. I make a resolution: I resolve to hit my goals by keeping to the plan! BOOM! There ya go! Yes, it does some take some time set aside to do this. Yes, it does take a learned level of discipline (that, trust me, you can learn). And yes, it is totally with it!