FREDERICK COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
It’s that time of year when people start talking about making those infamous new year resolutions that are made with the best intentions but also destined to fail.
And that’s not just us being faithless pessimists here, it’s actually what’s true for the majority of people.
Because according to US News, 80% of New Year resolutions fail by the second week of February. Which means most of us won’t even be living our new lives for two full months before it has been definitively kicked it to the curb.
Research and experience agree that new year resolutions don’t really make anyone slimmer, healthier, wealthier, or better, and yet, humans continue to make them year after year, after unsuccessful year.
We aren’t sure why humanity seems so attached to this practice—probably it’s our continuous and innate desire to live our best lives—but we do know that when it comes to business there is a much better way and it’s called setting goals.
It’s easy to become an idealist when the New Year rolls around, but it’s important to remember that New Year’s resolutions are ultimately a tool to help you grow into the person you want to be."
Nope, Resolutions are Not Just Goals You Set at The Beginning of The Year
Setting goals and making resolutions are two practices that are quite dissimilar.
A resolution, no matter when it occurs during the year, is basically just a statement of one’s resolve to do something. The dictionary defines it simply as, “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
That is all.
There’s no talk about how or why or when. And, while you may be firm on the matter at hand, it doesn’t mean you have really taken any time to figure out why this is important to you, how you’re going to accomplish it, or when you plan to start, stop, or progress check along the way.
Setting resolutions doesn’t require you think at all about how you may overcome obstacles that you will potentially face or even what those obstacles may be. There’s no support system put in place, no strategy, no contingency, it’s just you out there in the world saying, “Universe, I am going to be the best plumber in town in 2019!”
And, more importantly,why?
This behind the scenes thought process is part of what makes the goal setting process one that lends itself more easily to success. If we want to have a successful change experience, we have to truly understand the goal setting process and how dramatically different it is from the new year resolution setting one that we all get tripped up with each year.
Because goals are just different.
They’re more than just overarching, lofty statements about what you want out of life.
Dictionary.com defines a goal as, “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.”
The word ‘effort’ changes things. It puts emphasis on the how of it, which is the part that matters because it’s what ensures you’re not just running around saying you’re going to be great without having any great activities lined up to help you get there.
Money Crashers says that it’s this behavior modification that matters most explaining that, “behavior modification, more than anything, is what will help you harness your ambition and actually reach your desired destination in life.”
Smash Your Business Goals By Making Them S.M.A.R.T
Now that we’ve reframed things, it’s important to remember that the goal setting process, while inherently better than the resolution making one, is not foolproof.
People don’t achieve goals all the time, and the reasons for that are quite varied.
While you can’t predict every shortcoming you’ll have or obstacle you’ll face, there are some things you can do to help ensure that your goals are more achievable.
Setting smart goals is a great way to start.
S.M.A.R.T goals, a term coined by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, are designed to help you focus your ideas and use your time and resources effectively to achieve whatever objectives you’ve set for yourself or your business. Consider them a guideline to help set you on the pathway toward success.
Broken down, the S.M.A.R.T goal setting process encourages you to create specific goals that are measurable, actionable, realistic, and bound by time, but here’s what that looks like in practice.
The 5 Elements of Smart S.M.A.R.T Goals
The problem with resolutions is that they tend to be a little idealistic. Nothing wrong with that when it comes to motivation and inspiration, but when it comes to actually getting things done, you need something more concrete to hold onto.
People resolve to abstract things like, “be healthier”.
But, what does it really mean to be healthier? What does it look like?
More exercise? Less alcohol? No carbs?
Sounds great, but without any parameters or directives you’re probably going to find yourself in the group with the other 80% of people who aren’t eating healthier or exercising more come February.
When it comes to setting goals, you don’t have these questions because, if you set good ones, you're specific in both your outcome and your process.
So, instead of just making 2019 the year you get healthier, you might make 2019 the year you set a goal of running a 10k, completing a certain fitness program, or reaching a certain BMI.
Once you have your specific goal in mind, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Make Them Measurable
Now that you know where you’re headed, you need to know how you'll know when you’ve made it.
So what does success look like to you?
Let’s go back to that getting healthier example from before. How will you know if you’re actually healthier?
You’ll weigh less? Be able to climb the stairs without getting winded? Fit into your wedding dress again?
These are measurable items that will let you know when high fives are in order.
When it comes to business, things you can put numbers on make it easy—lower overhead costs compared to last year, higher profit margins, increases in social media engagement on a certain platform, these can all be measured and compared to determine success or failure on related goals.
As the dictionary so kindly pointed out, goals are achieved via effort. Which means that if you want to get the job done, you have to lay out the actions that need to be taken and get them done. Assign them to the people who are going to be in charge of them and ensure they understand the process, their role, expectations, and what success looks like. And, if that person is you, then you need to figure out a system to help you stay on top of your new way of life.
Pro Tip: Get a journal and write in it daily as you undergo change. It will help you stay on top of your goals in a way just thinking about them can't.
Journaling alone won’t magically boost anyone’s productivity. But when you combine action with reflection you’ll take better actions over time. -Jane Lee, Launch Pop
Listen, if you’ve never run anything more than an errand in your life, chances are good that you’re not going to be able to knock out a 26 mile marathon by President’s Day unless you plan to walk part of the thing, get lunch half way through, and ride a golf cart across the finish line.
That’s just what’s real and, when it comes to setting goals and actually achieving them, being realistic is important.
When you set up these far reaching, unattainable without a miracle type of goals, you’re just setting yourself and your business up for failure.
Just like you’re not going to be able to run that marathon, you’re probably not going to be able to organically triple your following on Instagram in a month, or take an unimagined product to market in the first quarter of 2019.
Instead, set attainable goals based on research (what is your current growth rate on Instagram and what can you realistically do to increase that?) and resources (when can your team actually come up with and develop a new product?) so that you have a better likelihood of success.
Set a Time Limit
Goals aren’t things you plan to do “one day,” that’s what dreams are for.
Goals need a time limit to make them attainable because everyone just doesn’t subscribe to the, “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” philosophy of life, and if left to linger, challenging things like goals are easily pushed aside.
Give yourself and your employees a deadline to achieve certain things and then go ahead and celebrate when you do.
Goal setting can be a struggle. If you’re in need of guidance, Leadership Techniques, LLC, and Dale Carnigie Training are two useful local resources.
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