That time of year is upon us once more, when many ambitious individuals attempt to indulge in a little self-improvement, purely because...well, everyone else is doing it. “New year, new me!” How many times have we heard (or said) that over the years? Albeit, usually in an ironic tone. According to Forbes magazine around 8% of Resolutionists (or Resolutionaries, I haven’t quite decided) succeed in their quest. If you really want to be part of this exclusive group of superhumans, then you’re going to have to be SMART about it.
Why does he keep writing “smart” in capital letters?, I hear you ask. The reason is, for those of you who don’t already know, that SMART is an acronym to guide you in your goal-setting. SMART breaks down to:
- SPECIFIC: It’s no good setting yourself the resolution of “learning a new language” like many people do, and hoping it miraculously happens, because it won’t, and your reward will be a growing sense of guilt and failure – we’ve all been there. In this example resolution you haven’t set a time period, a desired level or even the language that you want to learn. This is more of a hope than a target. However, “I will have a B1 level in German by May 31st”, is a much better resolution. Why? Because it’s…
- MEASUREABLE: You can split it into progressive and progressional steps and keep track on your advancement. If we stick with the language example then these can be the levels, which are: A1 (Beginner), A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 (proficiency). There are many free online tests, of varying quality, to keep track or you can even pay for a course. This would also provide you with structure and much needed discipline, as well as support from other learners. You can apply this attitude to your own resolution. Find resources and make a plan!
- ATTAINABLE: You have to really believe you can do it. That means taking into account that most of us don’t have as much time as we’d like to. Maybe what you want to achieve has financial commitments like joining a gym, or travelling. Do you have the disposable income, or will you have it in the coming year? Don’t give yourself the excuses or let these things hold you back.
- REALISTIC: Following on from making sure your task is doable, make a plan to achieve your resolution, and if you suspect it to be too taxing, change it. The last thing you want is to be totally overwhelmed and demotivated by an unachievable feat. Don’t be too hard on yourself either. Set yourself mini goals which are great motivators. E.g. I will be able to count to 100 in German by January 21st - doable and not too intimidating.
- TANGIBLE: Having an attainable and realistic goal will make it tangible. It needs to be close to you and a part of your everyday life because it is something you want to do. If you don’t really want to complete your resolution, then there is little point starting – unless you have motivation and discipline by the bucketload.. Have regular check ins where you assess your progress; this way you feel you are consistently achieving and it will help with motivation too.
Just me..? Ok, cool.
There are several variations of the SMART acronym, but most of them are useful when it comes to setting goals.
Some other tips
- Have someone to report to: It really helps having someone to answer to, maybe even someone with the same resolution.
- Forgive yourself: If you have a setback, don’t let it be an excuse to give up.
- Stick to just one: Don’t complicate things by giving yourself too much to do.
So if you’re going to take your New Years’ resolution seriously in 2017, then get a pen and paper and plan it. Some of us are all talk and it’s all to easy to fabricate a vague New Years resolution and set yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Dec 28, 2016 by Matt
Really interestingposted 1 year ago by Fatima
Great articleposted 1 year ago by vfedq
My main resolution is: Prove to any person who thinks that I am OLD that someone who was 53 years old is full of energy, motivation and capable!!!posted 1 year ago by Elizete
Awesome :Pposted 1 year ago by Jose
New year resolutions are usually a trap if done incorrectly. Thanks for the advice!posted 1 year ago by Javier
Very interesting article!posted 1 year ago by Rahib
Nice one!posted 1 year ago by Emil
Very interesting.posted 1 year ago by Fabio
Good advice! Thanks!posted 1 year ago by Kristin
topposted 1 year ago by Marco
Going to university is seen by most as an adventurous and exciting period in life, as well as a transitional period which sets you up for the rest of your life