What Do You Want to Change for Next Year?

If you want to make some changes in your life, having a start date can be very helpful. Many people use the beginning of a new year for this start date and make New Year’s resolutions, but you could really pick any date that’s important to you, such as your birthday. Whatever date you choose, don’t get caught in the usual traps of goal-setting that cause most people to give up on their New Year’s resolutions before the month of January is out. Set smart goals and be reasonable. 

SMART goals

Brainstorm and think of the top three things you would like to accomplish or change in the new year.

We often associate New Year’s resolutions with self-improvement, but your resolution may include starting a new hobby or growing in your career. Once you have your top three, it’s time to set your SMART goals. 

The acronym SMART has helped many people develop goals that work. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-limited. So a SMART goal is one that is clearly stated, realistic, and something you yourself can accomplish. Give it a timeframe and measure your success. 

Let’s say your top three are to quit smoking, lose weight, and get promoted. Here’s how SMART goals would work in these examples. 

Quitting smoking is achievable and measurable, because you are in control of your own actions and because many people have quit smoking. Make it a realistic goal by developing a success plan. Overcoming the smoking addiction requires a plan of action, such as avoiding situations that will make you want to smoke, having gum or something healthy in your mouth instead of a cigarette, etc. Do your research and determine the steps that will help you succeed. Give yourself a timeframe – for instance, no cravings to smoke for one whole month before your next birthday. 

For the goal to lose weight, pick a reasonable number of pounds and give yourself a reasonable amount of time. You will not be able to lose 50 pounds in a healthy manner in one month, but you could lose 10. That’s achievable and reasonable if you have created a healthy plan of diet and exercise. It is likely not achievable or reasonable if you have not created such a plan. 

If you want a promotion, define clearly the type of position you’re looking for. Then think about what you need to do to make it achievable – additional training, networking, mentoring, etc. Consider a reasonable timeframe in which to accomplish this and whether you need to set mini-goals along the way. For instance, if you’re an accountant in your firm and your goal is to become CFO, determine what steps you need to take to move up to Senior Accountant or Manager within a year and plan out your future career course for CFO in five or ten years.

Setting yourself up for success

First, don’t expect perfection from yourself. Especially in the case of smoking or weight loss, you may sometimes break your resolution. Don’t consider it a failure, though; consider it a learning experience. What caused you to pick up that cigarette or that candy bar? How can you avoid it in the future? Now recommit yourself to your SMART goals and continue. 

Give your top three goals hierarchy. It’s probably not a good idea to try to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time, but one could roll very nicely into the other. Which goal has the most significant impact on your life? You may be able to start taking steps to move up in your career simultaneously while losing weight or quitting smoking, but since work often causes stress, and stress often causes us to self-medicate with habits such as smoking or binge-eating, you may want to wait until your lifestyle is healthier so you don’t fall into any bad habits.

Planning your goals and creating success plans can sometimes be a challenge. If you need help developing your SMART goals or setting yourself up for success, give me a call. We can work together to set you on the right path, and I can provide accountability that can be the key to your success.

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