SMART Goals: New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Published by Galel Fajardo
on January 1, 2020

Welcome to January 1st, 2020… It’s now time for the whole “New Year, New Me” cycle and charade to commence, a tradition that began over 4,000 years ago with the ancient Babylonians. This is a tradition that will likely be more vehemently performed this year as people say goodbye to 10 years of American culture run by Kardashians, social media influencers, and hipsters. <deep inhale> This is definitely going to be a doozy.

An Honest Look At New Year’s Resolutions

You already know the routine. The end of the year comes around and suddenly everyone is ready to get their s**t together. Magically, all of their procrastination and inner shortcomings are somehow forgotten and replaced on social media with #blessings and tidings of #GOAT. Their determined eyes look towards success with an unwavering focus… 

…that is until February 1st comes around. 

Then, like the clock striking 12 in Cinderella, all the magic fades away, leaving only a glass slipper and a pumpkin that was once a chariot. Similarly, the diets turn to donuts, the positive affirmations become lazy retweets, and the only thing left to remember the magic of New Year’s is a captioned photo with a few likes behind a glass screen. 

Okay enough of the extended metaphor stuff. You get the idea. The resolutions are set aside and the old ways are set back in motion. 

Now of course, a few rare superhumans really do set and achieve their New Year’s resolutions and that should be recognized for the outstanding feat that it is. So if you are one of these people, props to you! Stop reading this article and “go treat yoself” immediately because you deserve it. If you aren’t one of these people, don’t sweat it. You’re not alone.

In short, abandoning resolutions is much more common than achieving them. In fact, according to the U.S. News & World Report, 80% of resolutions have failed within 60 days of the onset of the new year. So how do we go about combatting this cycle?

It’s simple: SMART goals. 

WTF Are SMART Goals? 

If you’ve never heard of SMART goals, you may be thinking WTF? Aren’t all goals smart since I’m setting a positive intention for the future? Yes and no. Yes, goal setting is inherently intelligent, but no, the “SMART” in SMART goals is actually an acronym. 

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. This may seem like overkill, but SMART goals have been proven successful. A study found that 76% of people who wrote down and enunciated their goals achieved them which was 33% higher than those who did not.

So how do you start making SMART goals?

How To Make SMART Goals

First, you have to decide whatever it is that you’re setting your intentions on. Will it be a personal goal or a professional goal? The choice is yours, but make sure you start out with only one SMART goal to begin so as not to become overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and clear your mind for this step. There’s no rush. You want to take as much time as you need so that your goals reflect your desires. 

Then, you have to qualify each part of your goal with the facets described in the acronym starting with S which if you remember, stands for specific. This is easy enough to understand without too much of an explanation. Essentially, be specific about what you want to achieve. This is the heart and soul of your goal. This is your why and should be the driving force behind your intention.

The next letter, M, stands for measurable. Make sure you use actual metrics, so you are able to measure your success along the journey to your goal. This not only gives you encouragement, but it also provides you with a definitive way of knowing whether or not your goal is complete. Some goals are multi-faceted, so you may have a few goals set up as you move towards your overarching SMART goal.

Next is A for attainable. You need to assess the attainability of a goal for several reasons. One is to understand what new skills you need to achieve your accomplishment along with anything else you might need. Similarly, you might find that you are already quite qualified to start reaching your goal. This part of the process is not meant to discourage you. However, in high performance, fast-paced environments, I have found that this is extremely important for curbing overambitious tendencies of people who tend to “bite more off than they can chew.” When they see what it takes to achieve the goal laid out in front of them, they do better at assessing what they are qualified to do. This is another reason this letter is so crucial to SMART goal setting. Your goal needs to be challenging yet possible. 

In addition to being attainable, your goal must be realistic, which is what the next letter, R, stands for in the acronym. It might seem like attainable and realistic are the same, but they are not. Being realistic about your goal means getting real with yourself about what you and your team are capable of. An exaggerated example of this is climbing Mt. Everest. Yes, it’s attainable, but is it realistic? Probably not for most people. Only you can know this, so take some extra time on this step if you need to.  

The last letter is T, which stands for timely. If your goals are not bound by time, they are pretty much running wild. You must add a time limit so that you don’t lend yourself to procrastination or excuses. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it.

A bonus letter, I typically add is one more S, which actually makes “SMART” into “SMARTS” is self-determined. YOU have to want to make this change. You can’t set a weight loss goal because your wife is nagging you to do it. YOU have to want to do it.

Need more help? Download my free e-book (in the box below) that’ll walk you through this entire process in order to get some ideas going in the right direction. Remember, the best goals take time to craft! 

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A Trusted Method

SMART goals have been around for awhile and as mentioned previously, have been scientifically proven to be successful. Companies and organizations around the globe from middle schools to large-scale corporations lean on SMART goal-setting to drive their productivity and provide their teams with purposeful direction. Get started setting your goals today and get closer to your new reality. 

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