Setting SMART Goals for the New Year

Image: Setting SMART Goals for the New Year

New Year’s Resolutions for Professional Success

The new year is almost here! 2017 is coming to an end and 2018 is just around the corner. This is a great time to sit down and think about your goals for the future. Whether you call them New Year’s resolutions or just plans for the next twelve months, there are many good reasons to take a pause and consider what you want to achieve next year and what steps you can take to move you towards your desired future state.

When it comes to setting goals, we have all heard of setting SMART goals.  While this approach isn’t new, I find it’s good practice to remind ourselves of the process as I tend to skip steps (like being attainable) in an effort to reach my outcome faster.

Setting SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

Setting a SMART goal makes your goal-setting process more effective and efficient. It ensures that you have something to work towards and that you don’t find yourself spinning your wheels or struggling to reach a goal that isn’t realistic or attainable.

  • Specific
    • A specific goal is the difference between saying “I want to get more clients” and “I want to get 10 more regular clients.” Setting specific goals give you a better chance of success since you’ll have a firm outcome to work towards.
  • Measurable
    • How will you determine whether or not you’ve reached your goal? When you’re setting goals, think of how you will measure your success. Sometimes it helps to break down a larger goal into several smaller steps to make it easier to track your success.
  • Attainable
    • You want to set a goal that requires effort, but you also want to make sure your goal is something that is actually possible. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Far too often we set lofty goals without thinking through the smaller goals / outcomes that need to be achieved first to get us there.
  • Relevant
    • Your goals should fit your business strategy, your professional career path or your lifestyle plan. By making your goals relevant to a specific area of your life, you will be most effective and will set yourself up for the greatest chance success. This will increase your motivation to work hard to achieve your goals.
    • The R in SMART can also stand for Reasonable, which is a similar aspect to Relevant. You’ll want to make sure your goals fit into the overall scheme of things. For example, you might want to have the best year in your company’s history, but if your entire industry is in a downturn, this may not be reasonable.
  • Time-Based
    • Set a timeframe for achieving your goals. This makes it easier to chart your progress and measure your success as well as reward yourself when you reach milestones. For example, if you want to get 10 more regular clients, when do you want to achieve that? There is a big difference between adding 10 new clients by July and reaching the same number of new clients by next December.

Another tip for goal-setting is that it’s a good idea to set goals that you have control over. While there are obviously very few situations where you have complete control over all aspects, it’s still a good idea to focus on your own contributions rather than goals that depend entirely on someone else. For example, deciding to pitch your business to 50 new clients this year may be a better goal than attracting 10 new clients, since pitching to clients depends more on your efforts. You can then set a close rate of 20% which would convert into 10 new clients.  This way you can influence the outcome as much as possible.

One approach that I have found very helpful is to share your goals within someone else and ask them to be your accountability partner.  This means the other person will check in with you regularly to get a status update on your progress and to help you brainstorm / discuss how to overcome obstacles.  By publicly stating what you want to achieve, you increase your level of accountability and can increase the amount of support you will receive from others to help you reach your goals.

Finally, don’t be afraid to revise your goals. We all have the tendency to consider it a “failure” if we don’t achieve our goals on the first attempt. The problem with this mentality is that it sets us up for an “all or nothing” outcome. Just because you didn’t reach your initial goal, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep working towards improvement. Instead, review your goals, make changes and keep going.

Wishing you a happy and successful 2018!

Giselle Kovary

As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.

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