So many people make a New Year’s resolution, but don’t stay with it. If this is you, it’s time to rethink how you make your resolutions, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, or at any time in the year. While I didn’t come up with this SMART idea, it’s a good idea to review now before New Year’s Day. We all make resolutions in our lives. We naturally want to make our own life and the world around us better in some way. As you might now be considering a New Year’s resolution, try to keep it SMART. There are a few versions of this acronym, but the basic one is good to get started, and will hopefully help you to keep your resolutions well past January, when others tend to fail.
SMART = Specific + Measurable + Attainable + Realistic + Timely
When it comes to your work, resolutions might include things such as: getting a new job; changing careers; managing our time better; improving networking efforts; seeking new business opportunities; being more organized; improving relationships with peers, a boss, or clients; increasing sales.
Consider the goal of improving networking efforts. When we’re employed, we can sometimes neglect keeping in contact with prior work contacts, or we find ourselves so busy with work that we don’t reach out to our current contacts in ways that would build stronger relationships. So often, it is when we become unemployed that we regret not having spent a little more time networking.
Keeping your goal SPECIFIC, in our example, you want to address certain aspects of networking. You might decide to increase your involvement with a specific professional association related to your career. You might decide to take on a board position with the group, or be a presenter for an upcoming conference. If your goal is too loosely defined, you will never be able to know if you achieved it.
To keep our goal MEASURABLE, decide how many meetings you will attend during the year, or how many people you will introduce yourself to at each meeting. You need to be able to see if you are hitting your target. Try to break down the numbers into weekly or monthly goals so you can keep tabs on your progress.
Keeping your goal ATTAINABLE, think of what might have kept you from being successful in the past. There will always be roadblocks to reaching our goals, the trick is figuring out how to blast through those roadblocks, one-at-a-time. If you can’t see a way past those roadblocks, then you might be setting yourself up for failure. If in the past, there have been conflicts in the meeting times for the association meetings, how will you plan your time differently so that you can get to the meetings?
Is the goal REALISTIC? Too often we go overboard, expecting perfection on day one. It’s okay to have a less-than-perfect goal in mind, as long as it is an improvement from before. If in the past, you have only been able to get to 2 of the monthly meetings within the year, it might be unrealistic to think you will get to all 12, and the annual conference. Set a realistic goal and you are more likely to have success, which you will then build on for higher goals in the future.
Lastly, your goal should be TIMELY. Having a time frame gives your goals structure. In our example of improving your networking efforts, you need to get meetings on your calendar well in advance, making them a priority. Also get on the email list for the group, join their LinkedIn group, or ‘like’ their Facebook page so that you are sure to get regular communication from the group. Check in weekly on your goals to make sure you are scheduling the time needed to achieve your goals.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions will be, in work and your personal life, keep them SMART and you will have more success in reaching your goals.
By Alicia Philipp, MS, LPC, NCC,