A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. Gym memberships go way up in January. By Valentine’s Day that box of chocolates is looking pretty good and gym attendance is way down. It isn’t that resolutions are bad ideas. They’re not. Or that people can’t change. We can. It is that most resolutions don’t provide the structure we need to keep them.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound. By using these 5 criteria your resolutions will become defined targets rather than vague wishes.
More is not a number, someday is not a time and better than bad isn’t the same as being good. Specificity is important for two reasons. First, a clearly defined goal of something we want to achieve is more motivating than some vague outcome. Second, the more specifically you describe the goal, the easier it is to make a plan to achieve it.
Setting a goal without a measurable outcome is like playing a game without a scoreboard. There must be an objective way to measure whether or not you achieve your objective. There’s a big difference between saying, “I’m going to exercise” and saying, “I’m going to exercise an hour a day and lose 10 pounds.”
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people course, we talk about your circle of concern and your circle of influence. Inside your circle of concern lie all of the things you care about. Inside your circle of influence are all of the things you can actually do something about. For a goal to be more than a dream, the outcome must lie within your circle of influence. Setting a goal of bringing down diesel prices probably isn’t something you can achieve unless you are an oil company executive. Reducing fuel costs in your business by 30% is.
Setting a goal high can be motivating. Setting it out of sight has the opposite effect. To be useful, a target must be within the realm of possibility. Saying, “I want to produce a million dollar profit next year,” from a ranch that has always lost money isn’t a SMART goal. It’s a bad joke. Your goal is probably realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished.
I never would have turned in my homework if the teacher hadn’t assigned a due date. SMART goals should specify when it will be accomplished. It may help to set dates by which targets will be achieved along the way. More is not a number and someday is not a time.
As SMART as your resolution might be, there is one more critical element: commitment. Formalize your resolution by writing it down and telling someone what it is so they can hold you accountable. You can start right now. Whether it is to devote two mornings a week to WOTB or lose 10 pounds by the end of May (that’s mine) I invite you to share your resolution with ProfitTips readers.
We at RMC wish you peace and prosperity in the new year. Happy New Year.