Why Your Resolutions Aren't Working
A new Allstate series of commercials, featuring Dean Winters in the lead role of “Mayhem,” claims, Resolutions are made to be broken.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
It won’t be necessary to go on and on about the uselessness of resolutions; you’ve heard, and possibly even experienced, this truth via the oft-filled health clubs in January that reliably thin out throughout the year.
I’m not here to rail on you for making resolutions. Lots of people do, and they’re often well-intentioned and made with sincere hopes of success. My intention is to propose an alternative, something less sexy and billboard-y and more likely to lead to success and real change in your life: goals. In addition, I’ve included 3 things to consider when setting goals, which you can do anywhere, anytime.
Make it SMART
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-Sensitive. There are a few variations of this acronym, but this version has always made sense to me. These all largely speak for themselves, but here’s the essence:
Specific: don’t set vague goals.
Measurable: make sure you can quantify them.
Attainable: let someone else be the first to break the 2-hour marathon barrier.
Relevant: if you’re not interested in guitar, no need to take it up – what are YOU interested in and good at?
Time-Sensitive: give yourself a deadline.
This concept was originally created by George Doran in 1981 and has been utilized in a variety of settings. When I lived in Hungary, I had the cool opportunity to speak to high school and college students about this topic and how it relates to my faith. Using this simple format helps.
Make it Difficult
This piece balances out the “Attainable” concept above. Your goals should be attainable so that they don’t make you despondent, but they should also be challenging or you’ll lose interest. A friend of mine who started his own business in Nashville recently posted his company goals for 2018. At the end of the post, he reflected: “While this list literally freaks me out, I'm extremely excited to grow with a team that trusts my crazy ambitions.”
Wouldn’t you rather be on a team with a boss who has crazy ambitions?
A key learning for me in my Master’s program at Michigan State has been on the concept of goal-setting. In organizational behavior research, few concepts show consistency across many studies, but goal-setting theory does. When employees have specific, measurable, hard goals, participate in making them, and receive feedback, they set higher goals for themselves and have higher performance.
Make it Public
In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, a key self-management strategy is “Make Your Goals Public.” Here’s a direct quote that sums it all up:
There is no more powerful motivator to reach your goals than making them public. If you clearly tell other people what you are setting out to accomplish – be it friends, family, or a spouse – their awareness of your progress creates an incredible sense of accountability.
So, post on Facebook or Twitter. Call your sister and let her know what you’re doing. Write it down and put it on your refrigerator. You're more likely to succeed if you do.
Time to put my money where my hands are. Here are 3 goals I’ve set for myself this year:
1. Complete a 5K, 10K, and triathlon
2. Write 12 blog posts, one per month (one down!)
3. Complete my 2018 reading list
Cheers to you and your goals in 2018!