(Last Updated On: April 24, 2019)
At the beginning of every year, we start out with a set of “resolutions” but after just a few weeks or so, those well-meaning aspirations take a one-way trip to Neverland. Maybe, we don’t understand the difference between goals and resolutions. So, let’s look first at what resolutions are, then, we will focus on how to set goals and achieve them.
After a quick search on Google, here is what I found: “resolution.”
- a firm decision to do or not to do something
- the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter
A good look at those words tells us that making resolutions is about making a serious commitment to change. They also require a one-time action.
Resolutions vs Goals
- This is an example of a resolution: “I will drink juice instead of coffee.” This is a simple decision which can be made without any planning.
- This is an example of a goal: “I will improve on my relationship with my spouse, and I will also save some money. This is a decision but only detailed planning will make this a reality. It also has to be measured over a period of time.
Since most often confuse the two, I will focus on setting goals. Goals require going much deeper than just simply making a one-time decision. Usually, this is why most don’t follow through with “resolutions.” They set goals thinking that they are making resolutions, without understanding that goals require a well-structured plan, commitment, and action.
Same Old, Same Old – Ringing in the New with Old
So why aren’t we following through with our intentions? Some say, “life happens!” (Some may use other words here).
Here is a list of possible reasons. Do any of these apply to you?
The reason we have to reset and make “new” resolutions/goals (sometimes, the same ones) is that;
- We fail to properly manage ourselves
- We fail to take consistent action
- We fall prey to the same excuses
- We allow circumstances to dictate our lives rather than proactively take charge
- We may be bringing the same negative attitudes to deal with the same problems we are having today
- We keep the wrong company
We all react differently to circumstances, based on our value-system, discipline, and background. Some of us learn quickly, make adjustments, and some border on madness by making the same mistakes repeatedly.
The Importance of Setting Goals – SMART Goals
What is that acronym S.M.A.R.T about anyway? This model is used in almost every major training module by professionals, educators, life coaches and more.
SMART is a core training device which helps people to set goals effectively. It works as long as one stays with the plan! Yet even with a plan, there is an important component needed for the plan to work, it’s called commitment, which manifests as taking action. Without commitment and action, all our lofty “resolutions” and goals die an unfruitful death.
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Looking at the SMART model, we see that it can work.
The model is used for measuring the progress of businesses and individuals alike. Both groups can profit from the objectives of the SMART model. It’s a win-win.
Progressive companies know the personal development of their employees is tied to the company’s overall success. Get people to focus on achieving goals and it can greatly boost the morale, productivity, and value of the company. This is why companies collectively spend millions every year on training.
Setting SMART Goals – Using SMART is how we manage and ensure we attain our goals
Let’s look at an example below.
A Smart Goals Example – Task & Objectives
Task: Improve my relationship, and save money
S – Specific/Significant
I will spend (X) number of meaningful hours per day with my loved ones at any cost. During this time, we will exercise, play, chat and discuss our financial goals with the intention of saving an amount of money monthly going forward.
M – Measurable/Motivating
At the end of 3, 6, 12 months we will be healthier, happier, understand each other better and have more money at our disposal.
A – Achievable/Agreed
We have agreed to readjust our lives to make this happen. We have the time, we are physically able and we have income.
R – Relevant/Realistic
In order to have a happy marriage and achieve our goals, we will be united, live peaceably, have the right attitude when dealing with challenges and the unexpected.
T – Time Bound
By the end of the year, we will be in a confident and better position overall, in all aspects of our relationship
The above can be further refined but you get the gist. You can see that a framework makes this goal quite possible once we manage it and are accountable
Successful Goal-Setting Requires Taking Action, Sticking to the Plan
Let’s see what happens if we don’t follow the plan:
2 years from now, an unexpected crisis occurs. Where are we now in our plan? Have we kept our focus by taking consistent action, or has “life happened?”
“Life happened” is not an excuse. Being properly prepared for this situation would cause us to respond accordingly. Ideally, we should have been consistently following the plan and already prepared for this adversity.
Somewhere along the way, our SMART goals became STUPID. A goal with no (committment) support system or accountability. We allowed the thorns and weeds of life to stunt our plan without taking proper care.
Here is where we miss an opportunity to succeed and why some fail to achieve goals. Each goal needs a support system (accountability), incorporating (a) right attitude/mindset and (b) action.
It is OK to have a brilliant and well-documented plan which
- looks good on paper
- is filled with all the goodies from our S.M.A.R.T training
But unless we have the right attitude (committed to success and take action), we end up back at square one. We all fail when we don’t stick to the plan and without this, our reaction to adversity will be unpredictable and chaotic.
Now we see that we can cheat ourselves out of success from the outset, by not having the right attitude. Success is the end result of setting SMART goals and making them happen.
This is my definition of success.
Success is a process of documented steps that are followed with determination and action. They are based on principles and not personal values, or emotions.
- First, we considered the difference between a resolution and goal
- We were reminded that we should use S.M.A.R.T in setting goals.
- We looked at its definition and application with the help of a scenario
- We learned why we can still fail despite setting SMART goals, i.e. by not taking consistent action and being accountable
Make sure your goals correspond with your life’s purpose. This will make them easier to achieve. Goals that fall outside of your skills, talents, and passion will result in unfulfillment and possibly, failure.
A flourishing life depends on whether you set and accomplish goals. The bigger your aspirations the more detailed planning will have to be undertaken, and the more likely your success will be. Imagine using this approach in our marriages, professions, roles, and responsibilities. So, do you want to be a better leader, boss, husband, wife, pastor, human? Then why not set some goals and follow through with a plan to achieve them.
Please tell us what you think in the comments below. We want to hear from you!
Here is a brilliant and more in-depth article on this topic: It’s called “Unsuccessful People Focus On ‘The Gap.’ Here’s What Successful People Focus On.“