Something about the turning of the year inspires us all; we reflect on the year past as we welcome the coming of another trip around the sun.
Ridiculous, ain’t it?
January 1 is as arbitrary a date on the calendar as any other, but it seems to hold a lot of weight for so many people. I’m not immune to the silliness, but I do look at it and get a good chuckle. It’s like starting a diet on “Monday” instead of just putting the darn cupcake down already even though it’s Sunday afternoon.
So, with this changing of the years and metaphorical chucking of our old calendars, a lot of us make resolutions – we resolve to change or improve or do something differently in the coming year, which, statistically, we’ll give up before January ends anyhow.
Smart people resolve to start going to the gym in February, after the resolution wave dies (friendly tip!).
The problem with resolutions
Well, besides the fact that many resolutions are bound to fail, I think the real problem is obvious in the definition…
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
That’s just it. You decide to do or not do something. You have no plan.
No wonder so many resolutions fail when people don’t have any clue of how to even achieve them, or where to start.
Goals, not resolutions
Here’s how I stay out of this resolution rut: I make goals, not resolutions.
Goals have a bit more substance than just decisions to/not to do something. There’s a really neat little template/acronym thing I use to help me make goals with plans, called SMART.
Setting SMART Goals
I wasn’t smart enough to come up with this myself, but I stumbled upon it once and it really stuck. Each letter stands for a characteristic your goals should have. SMART helps me better achieve any goals I set out for, even if I come in a little late somtiems – my two kids make sure that it takes me way longer than I originally intended.
So what should a smart goal be? It should be…
- Specific – Make sure your goals are specific. “Lose weight” is a resolution, “lose 15 pounds” is a specific goal. Give your goal a who, what, where, when, and why.
- Measurable – You need to be able to measure your progress, both to know when you’re done and to keep you motivated. “I will lose at least 2 lbs a month” is measurable!
- Attainable – Don’t set goals that even the most motivated person couldn’t achieve. For me, that means setting much smaller goals because sometimes things have to be set aside so I can take care of things for home. With the weight loss goal, don’t expect to lose 5lbs or more a week, it will only leave you feeling defeated when you can’t attain the unattainable.
- Relevant – Pick goals that are actually important to you. You won’t be motivated to change things if you’re happy with the way they are!
- Time-bound – Beginning-of-the-year goals already seem to have a built-in deadline, but its best if you can set deadline for yourself. Do you want to lose 15lbs by May? Declutter your hall closet by March? Paint your kitchen by July? Having a deadline keeps your head in the game!
Another important piece, that absolutely destroys the SMART mnemonic device, is stay flexible. Guys, I have kids. Two of them, now, because I like punishment or something (must be that delicious newborn smell) and sometimes goals aren’t working for the family anymore, in one way or another. And anyone who knows anything about being a military family knows that the government loves to throw wrenches in the best laid family plans. Being a smart goal-setter means being flexible, too, and reevaluating when circumstances change.
My 2016 Goals
Publishing them on the internet makes them real, right?
Pay off debt. I’m not going to share all of our personal financial information here, but with the help of Dave Ramsey, we want to pay off the vast majority of our debt this year. By May, we want to have at least two of our debts totally paid off!
Blog more. I want to post at least 100 good blog posts this year. A good blog post is pin-able, has a pin-able image, and is what’s considered “evergreen” content (more on that another day! Consider it a promise for a great blog post!).
Mis en place. A little French saying that means “everything in its place,” generally used for cooking. I want our house to actually look like a home, and to be able to have company over on the fly, which means I need to become a better housekeeper, and everything in the house needs to have a home of its own so it doesn’t collect on any old surface.
Monetize the blog. I already do a little bit of this, but I could certainly do a better job! Right now, all I do is make enough to pay for the costs the blog incurs – domain registration, hosting, that sort of thing – but I’d love to see a little more to help with that first goal up there!
I have a few personal goals hanging around, too, though I’m not sharing them all here. The SMART details of each of these lives in my bullet journal where I can reference them at any time, and have to flip past them to get to my daily stuff.
So how about you? Do you have resolutions for the new year? Or do you have SMART goals? Share them here or join the discussion on Facebook!