Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolutions and Goals, The Things We Promise Ourselves

It's that time of year, namely the beginning of a new one, which for many people means it's time to come up with a New Year's Resolution. This is typically something that we genuinely want for ourselves. It's a little ambitious but doable. And we almost always fail.  Is there something we can do to increase our odds of success?

According to Forbes just 8% of us will be able to stick with our New Year's goals whether they're spending more time at the gym, quitting our favorite vice, or whichever other cliched goal you've chosen for yourself. Don't worry, most of my goals are pretty cliche too. ;) So what's up with the 8%? That is a pretty terrible success rate.

I think most of us have heard about SMART goals whether we implement this style of goal setting or not. This is one way that you can stack the odds in your favor when it comes to being part of that 8%. If you haven't heard of, or need to brush up on, SMART goals, I'll break it down briefly here using one of my 3-month goals as an example.

Specific - I will learn/relearn basic HTML and CSS using Khan Academy by April 1, 2015.

Goals need to be specific enough that you can tell when you've achieved them! If my goal was "learn new things" it would be too broad. Do I want to read a newspaper, gossip with a neighbor, or engage in serious learning? If you have a broad-based goal spend some time thinking about what you really want to achieve and settle on something more specific.

Measurable - My goal is binary. I will either have completed the course or not.

If my goal was "learn HTML" it would be hard to measure. I'm already starting out with some basic knowledge of HTML, should I call it completed now? You need to be able to measure your goal. This is the only way you can tell if you're making progress or if you've reached the end.

Attainable - My goal is not crazy and over-ambitious.

If you set unattainable goals you're just going to disappoint yourself. It doesn't do anyone any good to set unreasonable goals, especially if you're the type to be hard on yourself for not reaching them.

Relevant - My goal maters to me because of this blog but also because I will be starting up and managing a blog for the cider business (Deep Roots Hard Cider) that my husband and I are starting together.

Don't set a goal you don't really care about. This can be a little trickier because you may think you want to achieve a goal that's socially important (something that you're friends and family think is important) but if it's not important to you it will be almost impossible to achieve. You can't trick yourself into caring more than you do.

Timely - My goal includes and end-date. Nothing motivates like a deadline!

Setting yourself a time limit takes the goals out of the misty 'some day' and makes it more real. Breaking your goal up into smaller chunks (something I'll address in my next post) with their own shorter time limits is also a great way to self-motivate.

When you come up with your resolution this year consider making it SMART.

I've decided to spend some time talking here about goal-setting and achieving as it's been something I've looked into a lot in the past year or two. So, my next post will be about the next step to take after setting yourself an awesome, SMART goal.

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