May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.
I love this quote! How many New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by the time the last holiday sugar cookie is eaten or the December credit card bills arrive?
Instead of spouting unrealistic resolutions, try setting realistic goals for 2012.
Captain Cavedweller and I sit down on New Year’s Day and we each write a list of goals. I seal them in an envelope and put it away until New Year’s Eve. It is a lot of fun to open the envelope and see how many of those goals we achieved. Some are short term goals, some may take us all year, but there is a great sense of accomplishment when we can check them off and say “Yep, totally did that!”
The best way I know to set goals is to use the SMART goal method. Here is how it works:
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
To get a specific goal, ask yourself the who, what, where, when and why questions. Who is involved? What do I want to accomplish? Where will this take place? When will it take place? Why do I want this to happen?
A goal that is measurable is one that can be tracked by progress. When you measure progress, track results and meet deadlines, it spurs you on toward greater accomplishment. Ask yourself questions like “How many?” “How much?” “How will I know the goal is accomplished?”
Attainable goals help you identify what is most important to you. Once you do that, you can figure out step by step how to make it happen. You will develop the attitude, skill and ability to reach that goal. This part of goal setting requires planning. You need to think out each step of action you need to take to make the goal happen and the time frame in which you’d like to see the results. Even goals that are a stretch (ones that get you beyond your comfort zone) are attainable when you grow to reach them. If your goal is get out the door on time in the morning, what specific steps can you take to make sure it happens?
To be realistic, a goal must represent an end result you are willing and able to achieve . You can have a stretch goal that is up there in the stars and still have it be realistic. You are the only one who can decide how lofty your goal should be. Just make sure it represents progress. Some of the highest goals accomplished didn’t seem that difficult because they were a labor of love or evolved from a deep passion. If you honest-to-goodness believe your goal can be accomplished, then it is probably realistic. You can also determine if a goal is realistic by looking at past accomplishments or determining what conditions or factors need to exist for the goal to be realized.
A goal is timely when it is tied to a time frame and has a sense of urgency. The steps leading to the accomplishment of your goal will also be time-based.
So let’s look at a goal. You might set a goal that states “I will lose weight this year!”
While that is a good start, when you make it SMART, you make it doable and provide the basis to hold yourself accountable.
“I will lose 50 pounds by 5 p.m. Dec. 20, 2012″ is a SMART goal.
Anyone could show up at 5 p.m. Dec. 20, 2012 and see if you have lost the weight.
This is where you will also create your action steps. You might write down something like:
“To achieve this goal I will …
• Exercise for 45 minutes Monday through Friday between 6 and 7 a.m.
• Eat balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables, consuming no more than 1,800 calories a day.
• Drink 64 ounces of water every day.
• Check in weekly with Susie and Jane to h0ld me accountable to my goals…”
You get the idea.
When you share this goal with at least two other people, it will hold you accountable and help keep you on track.
The last part of the goal is setting a reward for yourself when you achieve it. Put it in writing and hold yourself to it. What realistic thing would you award yourself for meeting the goal? A pedicure? A new outfit? A spa day? Think of something that will give you some inspiration to keep going when you feel yourself dragging.