New Years resolutions set us up with high expectations and then splat – we fall flat on our face. They’re almost impossible to achieve, no matter what they are.
For two years in a row (to eliminate any anomalies) I tried an experiment and set my resolution as trying to watch more television. At every opportunity, I tried to watch at least 10 more minutes of television than the previous year – but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even keep my resolution for one day, never mind a whole year. In fact, I think I subconsciously watched less television so that I wouldn’t achieve my resolution.
In my desperate attempt to understand why resolutions are a contradiction in terms, I decided to look up the definition (this is a recurring habit of mine).
The main issue I have is with the name – it is a problem and you’ll see why. According to Google, resolution is defined as:
Option 1: A firm decision to do or not to do something.
Option 2: The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
Does either of these definitions resonate with you? They don’t with me – it’s time for a change. I vote to change the name from resolution to goal – and what better time than at the start of a new year. To me, the definition of goal is more relevant:
The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
Now we’re talking – doesn’t that make more sense to you?
I know that there is a lot of history behind the origins of New Years resolutions, but that is not the purpose of this article. My objective is to get you to start off the year right, not to give you a history lesson.
Goals should motivate you to work towards something, to give you focus and direction in your business. The problem is that resolutions seem to create more stress and almost work as a motivating factor not to do something.
We want to set our New Years goals for the year ahead based on what we can realistically achieve – and at the same time be motivated to achieve them. The issue I have with resolutions is that they’re often based only on what we want to achieve. As a result, they tend to have less longevity, so there’s an inherent disconnect. We also seem to be more public about our resolutions than our goals. So maybe a part of us feels that we need to impress others with our resolutions and thereby make them less realistic. No more!
With these goal-setting tips (thanks to the SMART method), you will now set goals worth achieving:
- Simple: Keep them simple. Lofty, complicated goals are harder to visualize and achieve.
- Measurable: Use numbers when you set your goals – facts are your friends and numbers are your facts. Be specific and quantify what you want to achieve. E.g. Acquire x number of new clients/year.
- Action orientated: Determine what activities you need to do to achieve your goal – be specific.
- Realistic: What can you realistically achieve within the time you have available? Remember: You always have less time than you think.
- Timely: Make your goals time-sensitive, so that there is a bit of urgency in them. Break down your goals into monthly/quarterly segments so that they’re not too far in the future and are more realistic to achieve.
And finally, make sure your goals are relevant to your customer, your product, your business and your values.
Good luck – I know that you’ll achieve these goals!
Image credit: by Kate Ter Haar, via flickr.com.