Making SMART Goals for a Successful Year

By Liz Mellem - January 13th, 2017

We’re about two weeks into 2017…have you ditched your New Year’s resolutions yet? According to research, only about 8% of people who set resolutions, actually accomplish them. In fact, 25% give up after only one week.

We don’t want that to happen to you, so today we’re giving you our best tips and tricks for making the most common resolutions stick. Set yourself up for success by creating SMART goals to start. Not only will that propel you into 2017 on the right foot, but you’ll have what you need to keep it going all year long.

If you’re ready to make this year your best year yet, come see us at Denver7’s New Year New You Expo on January 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Colorado Mills. CSU-Global is giving free, one-on-one, 10 minute career coaching sessions that will put you on the best path for career success in 2017.

SMART goals formula

Unfortunately, a lot of well-intentioned people don’t get too far with their resolutions in the new year because they aren’t setting the right expectations. Utilize the SMART formula when creating resolutions to properly and completely identify what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to do it.

  • S is for Specific: Proclaiming that you’re going to lose weight or save money doesn’t really mean anything. However, saying you’re going to lose 15 pounds before 2018 or save $100 every month for 12 months makes your goal specific and quantifiable.
  • M is for Measurable: Setting a specific goal is setting a measurable goal. Once you know where your end point is, you can begin working backward to develop a plan for accomplishment. This will also let you know where you are in comparison to your end goal.
  • A is for Achievable: Never set a goal that you can’t accomplish. If you want to run for 30 minutes three times a week but you have a broken leg, you’re not going to be able to accomplish your goal.
  • R is for Realistic: Not only do your resolutions need to be achievable, but they also have to be realistic. To say you’re going to lose 30 pounds in one week is impossible (not to mention extremely dangerous), but say you want to lose that same amount in a year, that’s doable.
  • T is for Timely: Set clear dates for milestones to track your progress. If you’re trying to quit smoking, decrease your daily intake by one cigarette each week. If you’re trying to get a new job, apply for two jobs every week.

Now that you know how to create successful resolutions for the new year, here are four of the most common resolutions that typically fail. Utilizing the SMART formula, see how you can make these year-long resolutions a reality.

#1: Health

Not surprisingly, resolutions often center on improving one’s health. This could be anything from losing weight and eating healthy, to going to the doctor, or giving up smoking. The problem is that longtime habits aren’t easy to break, and an “all or nothing” mentality can lead to feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, inadequate, and eventually, giving up totally.

Utilize calendars, phone reminders, affirmations, the buddy-system, etc. to keep you striving toward your goals a little bit at a time. Losing one pound each week by exercising for 30 minutes, three times a week is a plan. Saying you’re going to lose 20 pounds this year is not.

Celebrate milestones and adjust your SMART goals when necessary. As long as you’re getting closer, rather than further away from your goals, you’re headed in the right direction.

#2: Work

Work related resolutions are particularly tricky because you may not have as much control over their outcomes. If your resolution is to get promoted or come home with a big raise, for instance, there are outside factors to consider. Instead, resolve to improve one aspect of your work performance as a way of moving closer to your long-term goal.

  • Are you in the habit of being late to meetings? Create a reminder that will get you there a couple of minutes early.
  • Do you spend so much time responding to emails that you can’t get anything else done? Set aside an hour or two of dedicated email time each day to respond to all of them at once.
  • Is your inability to meet deadlines a joke? Stop the laughter by speaking with a timelier coworker or project manager to get some concrete tips for better organizing your time.

Once that raise or promotion become available you’ll look like a much better candidate. Not only will your superiors notice the steps you’ve taken to address your shortcomings, but you’ll also showcase your ability to learn new skills, resolve conflict, and be a team player.

#3: Education

If you’re looking to advance your career in 2017, you can open a lot of doors with a high quality degree in the appropriate field.  Whether it’s a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or the right certificate, you can earn the knowledge you need to get ahead by going back to school.

That sounds great, right? Sure, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you know graduation is still a long way out.

Instead of resolving to finish your degree, which might not be possible in one year anyway, resolve to get started on earning the degree or certificate you need. The first step is the hardest so break this big leap into multiple pieces…

  • Choose a high quality university that’s right for you and your lifestyle.
  • Apply for admission in a career-relevant program.
  • Structure tuition payments or apply for financial aid.
  • Discuss your courses and timeline to graduation with your enrollment counselor.
  • Enroll in your first course.

As you check off each task, you’re that much closer to the promotion and/or raise that you want for the long-haul. Earning your education isn’t quick or easy, but it can have huge implications for your professional future. Make 2017 the year you finally leap forward.

#4: Money

Wouldn’t it be great if you saved $50,000 this year? Of course! For most of us though, that’s a pretty unrealistic goal.  Fortunately, this particular resolution is an easy one to break down, due to the fact that it’s all about numbers…

Start by evaluating, or creating, your budget to figure out what you can afford to save each month. Many people aim for 10% from each paycheck, but the amount you resolve to save is personal to your financial situation. If additional funds are not available and you want to find money for saving, utilize these tips to make the most of each dollar:

  • Spend $10-$20 less at the grocery store.
  • Cancel a recurring subscription and see if you miss it.
  • Use television streaming services like Netflix and Hulu instead of going through the cable company.
  • Split your internet access with a neighbor and split the bill.
  • Bring food to work instead of buying meals and snacks.
  • Spend at least one weekend at home a month.

These small savings add up a lot quicker than you may think. Once you find a cheaper alternative to what you were doing, add the savings you received to your savings account immediately. Remember, the point is saving money, not redistributing how you spend it.

Remember, a resolution doesn’t do you any good in the New Year unless you actually keep it! Any progress is good progress, and you should be proud of every step you take in the right direction. Set smaller, SMART resolutions, and you’ll see big rewards before you know it.

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