We’ve just rounded the corner into 2017 and, along with the New Year, comes much discussion of New Year’s Resolutions. Specifically, “did you make any?” And general murmurings about things like “lose weight”, “eat healthier”, “grow my business/career”, etc.

Did YOU set any New Year’s Resolutions? No? GREAT!

As a Business Coach who helps people succeed in their business and prosper in their life, through a lens of what I call “Work-Life Integration”, it may seem odd that I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I suggest that you don’t set them.

Why? There are various reasons, including the following:

  • They are emotionally-charged and often peer-driven, akin to getting your kids a kitten for Christmas.
  • Only a small percentage of people who make resolutions keep them (approximately 60% after six months). In the language of Dr. Phil, I have to ask “how’s that workin’ for ya?”
  • There’s something about the term “Resolution” that suggests a “one and done” mentality – as in, if at first you don’t succeed, give up. That doesn’t make sense!

What’s the problem with Resolutions?

In my opinion, it stems from the very definition of the word. According to the Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary (http://www.learnersdictionary.com ), “resolution” means “a promise to yourself that you will make a serious effort to do something that you should do”. To me, the biggest issues are the phrases “serious effort”, “to yourself”, and “should do”. (Side note: My opinion of the word “should” is so low that I spell it with four letters: “shud”. Are you with me?)

And, according to the Oxford Dictionary (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com), some synonyms for “resolution” include “intention, resolve, decision, intent, aim, aspiration, design, purpose, object, plan”. While a couple of these are a bit more robust (design, plan), most are quite soft (intention, aim, aspiration).

Set GOALS Instead!

Goals are ALWAYS in season – at the new year, mid-winter, early summer, you get my point. There is no ONE DAY at which we have to state a Resolution and then make it work. And, along with that, there is no expiry date – as in, “oh, I failed by mid-February so I may as well give up until next New Year”.

Admittedly, the dictionary definition of “goal” isn’t a lot more robust than that of “resolution”. Again, according to the Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary, a goal is “something that you are trying to do or achieve”.

So, what’s a better way?

Don’t set just ANY goals, set SMART Goals!

While you will see a variety of adjectives ascribed to “SMART Goals”, the ones I generally use are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

If you are in business, you are likely familiar with the concept of SMART Goals so I won’t go into great detail here. (If this concept is new to you and you’d like a bit more information, feel free to reach out via the contact info I’ll share below.)

I do want to highlight a few key points about setting SMART Goals. In order to have a good chance for success (which is why you set goals in the first place, right?), you goals ought to be:

  • Quantifiable – both in terms of “how much/many” and “by when” (Specific, Measurable, Time-bound)
  • Incremental and cumulative – start small, finish strong! (Attainable, Realistic)
  • Revisited frequently and revised as needed. There is an expression I learned years ago: “You can change the date, just don’t change the goal.” Along those same lines, if you fall down, don’t stay down. Get back up, dust yourself off, get your bearings and get going again.

A couple more tips for achieving your SMART Goals

  • Understand that goal achievement is a Marathon, not a Sprint.
  • Get an Accountability Partner (such as a Business Coach and/or a group such as a Mastermind). No matter how well-intentioned you are and how much drive and integrity you have, you will always do better with Accountability Partners. Not only will they hold you to what you say you will do, they will help ensure that, when you fall down (and you will!), you get up faster and get back on your goal path sooner. And, they’ll help you get out of your head and into ACTION faster!! This will not only save you a lot of stress and time, it will – by extension – save (or MAKE) you MONEY!
  • And the #1 TIP on ACHIEVING your SMART GOALS – Take ACTION!! After all, even the best goals are of no real value until you put them into MOTION!

I would love to hear YOUR THOUGHTS on New Year’s Resolutions. And on SMART Goals. Please leave a comment or reach out to me directly to start a conversation!

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_gail-godreau_headshot_0302webGail Godreau is a Business Coach, Consultant and Speaker and owner of Lighthouse Wellness Strategies. She has an MBA and over 20 years of business experience including corporate roles in marketing, advertising, food service, and HR consulting plus over 6 years as an entrepreneur. Gail works with small business owners and professional women to help them bring their “A-game” to both work and life through greater “Work-Life Integration” (not balance) and to SUCCEED in their business and PROSPER in their life!