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Get SMART-er with your New Year’s Resolution

Full disclosure, I have never seen Field of Dreams, but I know the signature line “build it and they will come”. I’ve been thinking about this sentiment often with the recent year end and the traditional influx of new resolutions. Is it enough for someone to express their desire to be better and then the change will inevitably come? I think that is the path that a lot of people take when it comes to setting goals for themselves. But, perhaps it’s better to focus on the ‘how’ of the vision rather than solely the end result.

According to a Tangerine survey, almost 70% of Canadians make resolutions. Yet, 78% of these individuals fail to achieve their goal. I’m not advocating that we all give up and accept our lot in life. Quite the opposite. I am saying there is a better way in which you can structure your goals more efficiently so that you can find success rather than hair-pulling frustration. You can build the field and do the marketing.

The system is SMART, developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in 1981. It was designed to help create a goal with achievable steps. Because how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

S – Specific Goals

It’s important to set specific goals in order to have success. People often have the best of intentions with their goals for the new year but can set themselves up for failure by only outlining a vague objective such as ‘lose weight’ or ‘manage money better’. By having clear cut objectives, the ability to conceptualize the end goal and the steps to achieve it become much easier to manage. One way to develop clearer goals is to ensure that they answer the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why). So, for example, instead of ‘manage money better’, you could create a goal to ‘set up a system to pay off 10% of your personal debt’.

M – Measurable

While having a clear goal is a great start to the new year, it is a wise idea to attach measurable outcomes and steps to those goals. This will allow you to mark the milestones and track your progression along them through the year. To do this, include an addendum to your resolution by including the thinking of ‘how much’ and/or ‘by when.’ To add to the above example, you would adjust it to become ‘set up a system to pay off 10% of your personal debt by April 30th’.

A – Achievable

There is a common idiom that people utilize when talking about goals – shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars. While that’s a great sentiment, it can often lead to an overwhelming feeling when considering the multitude of what you want to achieve. It is great to aspire bigger than where you are currently, but you want to ensure the goals are attainable. You are more likely to find success if you set achievable goals. Remember that these goals are not the end of a journey or the only opportunity you will have to make goals – you can always modify and expand these goals later if you find you’re accelerating in your journey at a quicker rate than anticipated.

R – Relevant/Realistic

Further to being achievable, goals should be relevant to your current reality. It should not only be something of which you are physically and mentally capable, but also in regard to your personal financial situation and schedule.

T – Time-based

Set a time limit. Create a finish line. You want to create a comprehensive goal with that, comes a deadline to which you can hold yourself accountable. It helps to bring your goal into a more tangible reality. To give you a new example, rather than saying ‘spend more time with the family,’ you could adjust it to ‘spend Friday evenings with the kids in which we will turn off phones, play games, and order in’.

2020 was a trying year for many, and therefore it’s no surprise that people want 2021 to be better. They want to set themselves up to have a better year than what’s passed, and using these steps to create achievable goals will help make that a reality. Best of luck. You can do it!

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