It’s that time of year again: well-meaning people set well-intentioned goals for the year ahead. And every year, so many of those well-meaning people fail at meeting their well-intentioned goals. Why is that? My completely untested hypothesis is that people set really bad goals. Writing better goals in 2017 is key to success, no matter what you want to achieve in the new year.
While it may sound difficult or a little abstract, writing better goals is easy; you just have to be SMART about them! SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely and helps you set yourself up for success. I try to apply the acronym to every goal I set for myself, whether it’s for work or my personal life and find that I am far more successful when I spend the extra time working through the acronym.
Be SMART about writing better goals for 2017
Let’s take an example goal and work our way towards writing a SMART goal. A lot of people use the new year to get healthier, or at least that’s their plan. But the goal of simply getting healthier is not a good one. It’s too vague, too generic and involves too many unknowns for anyone to really achieve it.
Narrow down the scope of your goal. Instead of saying you want to get healthier in 2017, define what healthier means. Maybe it’s finally quitting smoking or eating better. For our example, we’ll use losing weight, since that’s what so many of us want to do after the holiday season!
Goal: I will lose weight.
While we’re well on our way to writing better goals, we still have a little ways to go before our goal is truly a good one. The next step is ensuring that you can track your progress and know when you’ve succeeded. What’s the point of a goal if you don’t let yourself succeed?! So decide what success looks like to you: do you want to lose inches or pounds or dress sizes? Pick a measurement.
Goal: I will lose weight and measure it in pounds. (I know this sounds clunky, but we’ll re-word it as we go.
Ok so you’re going to lose pounds in the new year. But how many? It’s easy to shoot for the stars and say you’ll lose 150 pounds. While some people may achieve that, many will not because the number is just too high and unrealistic. But on the flip side, a number that’s too easy may allow you to procrastinate. Choose something that’s right for you, based on your history.
Goal: I will lose 20 pounds.
In order for a goal to work, it has to matter to you at this point in your life. You may be all about losing weight, but if your financial life is in ruins, you may need to focus on that. Additionally, don’t let someone else talk you into setting a certain goal. If you don’t want it, you won’t achieve it.
Goal: I will lose 20 pounds.
Last, but definitely not least, you need to give yourself a deadline! Setting an endpoint will help you determine if you’re successful as well as motivating you. Now, as important as the deadline is, it’s not set in stone. If you hit your goal January 1, 2018 instead of December 31, 2017, you’re still successful. Make sure to give yourself credit.
Goal: I will lose 20 pounds by June 2017.
By writing better goals from the start of the year, you have a framework for the smaller helper goals that you’ll work on every day. Examples for our practice goal could be “I will walk 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day” or “I will only drink water during the day and cut out soda”.
As you prepare for 2017, make sure to practice writing better goals so you give yourself every chance possible to succeed and have the best year possible.
P.S. I am not a doctor or a trained healthcare professional so if losing weight is your goal in 2017, please make sure to check in with your doctor so they can help you in writing better goals!