You can maximize this tried-and-tested method in goal setting for your personal goals and New Year’s resolutions, too
It’s that time of the year again.
Not only do we need to change our calendars, get used to the new digits on our dates, and plan out for the rest of the year, we also have to do one more important thing: to make (and hopefully stick to) our New Year’s resolutions.
While some would argue that resolutions are meant to fail (in the same way that promises are meant to be broken), I want to point out that with the proper mindset and approach, we can actually have a high success rate in “changing for the better.”
In this article, we’ll take a look at how using the SMART method can increase our chances of making our New Year’s resolutions work. This concept can be traced back to George Doran’s “Management Review.” It is a systematic way of goal setting and has been widely used in different fields. This time, we’ll look at how we can maximize such a concept.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let’s break it down some more.
This is rather self-explanatory; it means that it has to be a somewhat concrete goal. We can’t be too general or broad when we make a resolution. For example, saying “I want to be fit” is not a nice goal to lay down. Rather, you can say “I want to be fit enough to run a marathon.” This makes it more specific and allows you to take exact steps to help you achieve this goal.
This is a concept that confuses a lot of people. To explain it better, let’s look at the rationale behind it. The reason we want a measurable goal is that we want to be able to discern whether we are successful or not.
An example would be saying that “I want to be more handsome than Tom Cruise.” The problem with this statement is that there isn’t really a metric to define good looks. Yes, we can ask people and conduct surveys; however, being such a subjective concept, it doesn’t define the criteria behind it properly. People will judge you differently and that’s not something we want.
Instead, we could say, I want to break my new PR for 10K. This is something that can be measured and thus gauged if successful or not.
For obvious reasons, it is something we want to point out. If a resolution is destined to fail, it’s not even worth your time mentioning. As a coach, I’ve had some people come to me with rather unreasonable goals. Obviously, I don’t want to burst their bubble or be that guy who would put them down. Instead, I adjust and try to reach specific milestones first.
For example, if someone has a three-hour half marathon PR and suddenly wants to break 1:45, it’s better to aim for a sub 2:30 or sub-two hour marathon first before reaching more lofty goals. It’s all about taking things step by step; we have to walk before we run.
This is a bit more ambiguous than the others but it can easily be broken down if we look at what it implies. While not really a concept that directly lends itself to success or failure, having a goal that is relevant to your life goals or direction in life is important as well.
If you dream of becoming a billionaire, and your New Year’s resolutions point towards splurging and other expenses, then it’s not something that would incentivize you to stick to it. By having goals that culminate towards a bigger and grander goal, it makes it easier and more fulfilling to achieve.
This is quite simple. The reason why we want it to be time-bound is similar to why we want it to be measurable: It’s easier to define whether you accomplished something or not.
Going back to the previous examples, if you want to break your PR in running, you have to say when you want it done. Keeping it open-ended isn’t the best way of doing it. Yes, you might not have broken your PR in 2022 but it doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve it.
By adding the time element to the equation, you can make more exact decisions in the other metrics as well. You can say “I want to break my 10K PR by September 2022” and this will not only define success, it will also give you a sense of urgency and in turn, contribute to your success rate.
Before we end, let me just point out that we don’t have to wait for the New Year to make any resolutions. We should treat each day as an opportunity to be better individuals. Just remember to apply these criteria to help guide you toward success.
Have some training questions, feedback or suggestions for future articles? Drop a note in the comments section below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also get in touch with Don directly here.