Every year, we set resolutions for the New Year — the most popular resolutions include losing weight, paying off debt, saving money, exercising more and quitting smoking.
While we select these resolutions with the best of intentions, most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten and left to the wayside by upcoming spring.
Why is this?
According to research by the University of Scranton, 92 percent of individuals who set New Year’s resolutions, never achieve their resolutions due to vagueness, denial, procrastination, discouragement, loss of focus, personal burdens and external stressors, to name a few.
Consider what would happen if we were able to accomplish resolutions through setting goals? When we make New Year’s resolutions, there is an expectation of an immediate change to our present situation. For example, a person who makes a resolution to quit smoking with a goal date of Jan. 1, may not realize the powerful physical and psychological effects of addiction, making the Jan. 1 ‘Cold Turkey’ quit date unrealistic.
So what should we do?
Set SMART goals! SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timeline-based.
Specificity allows the individual to determine if progress is being made and if things are on track. An example of a specific goal: “save $100 per salary for the next 12 months to pay off a vacation.” The more defined the goal is the greater chance of accomplishing it.
A goal should be measurable; measuring goals enables a tangible path to an outcome or goal. The tool we use to track progress should make progression or lack thereof appear obvious. For example, children plant seeds and observed its growth through weekly ruler measurements. As they determine their growth, children are able to tell if it is growing or not. That’s how measuring works. Practical measuring devices we can use are budgets, apps, checklists, journals, planners, spreadsheets, data collection plan, etc. Also, consider creating small goals. Tip: small goals make it progressively easier to accomplish the overall goal and each milestone provides gratification of success.
A goal should be Actionable: “Set your goal high enough to inspire and low enough to encourage” (author unknown). When we develop goals, establish the means to achieve the goal. For example, if you desire to lose weight, you may have to start by giving up soft drinks, then progress to cookies. Goals should be challenging but not impossible to reach. Goals that are set too high may be unattainable, leading to discouragement.
A goal should be Realistic: If your goal requires more time, resources, money, energy and skills than you have to achieve it, then it is unrealistic. Trying to save more money than you take home each month is an unrealistic goal. We must be reasonable about how much can be accomplished over a specific timeframe, keeping in mind our limits, resources, and needs when establishing personal goals.
Finally, a goal should have a Timeline: “Remembering the race is not to the swift, but slow and steady wins the race” (author unknown). Providing a target date for your resolution is important. If your goal takes three months to achieve, determine at the midway point what you hope to accomplish. Providing personal time constraints create a sense of determination. Ultimately, focus on working toward progressive achievement and not an immediate change.
With hard work and dedication, everyone can accomplish their goals. Establishing a resolution is a good way to start a goal, but without attaching SMART principles to it, it becomes hard if not impossible, to achieve that goal.
Additional options we can use to help accomplish goals are writing them down, placing them in areas where they are routinely reviewed, revising as necessary to ensure its attainability and sharing goals with friends and family.
Hopefully, this information will provide at least one person with the ability to accomplish their goals in 2019 and beyond. Good luck!