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SMART goals to start the New Year

SMART goals to start the New Year

Whether you’re looking to get a better job, improve your skills by finishing a course, or want to work towards a work/life balance so you have more time to do what you want, you’ll need to set yourself a goal or two. Here’s how to make those goals count.

Many people use the New Year to refresh themselves both physically and mentally. The break most people take from work and school allows for a certain kind of clear-headedness that comes after the hangover from New Year’s Eve celebrations has petered out but before returning to work or study. New Year’s resolutions brim with the promise of a better you.

The problem with resolutions, however, is that although they state an intention, they are very poor at shaping how you will achieve what you set out to do. An effective game plan must include a few elements to ensure success.

SMART criteria means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-related

Specific
If ‘get a better job’ is one of your resolutions, you’ll need to define ‘better’. Does it mean more pay? More work/life balance? Doing something different, something you enjoy? In other words, if you change jobs during the year, how will you know whether the new job achieves the resolution?

Measurable
After specifying what you want to achieve, put in place a way to measure your achievement. This will give you an objective gauge, as well as enable you to track progress towards your goals. More pay might be easy enough to do with a salary figure and work/life balance with time but how will you measure happiness? Can you do it with behaviour, e.g. ‘Fewer complaints about work as Facebook statuses’?

Achievable
Dream big but keep your goals realistic and achievable. If a goal is unattainable on its own you’ll put it in the too-hard basket or abandon it, so you’ll need to find the pre-requisite goals that lead up to it. Sure, you may want to become an astronaut one day, but perhaps the first goal you should focus on is finishing your astrophysics degree. This process will help you identify key milestones.

Relevant
Relevance relates to how your goal connects with your longer-term vision. You may have a chain of goals that could take several years, and they could also be interdependent, which means you’ll need to complete some before you can complete others. Say, for example, you’re a school-leaver and want to run your own business one day: one goal may be to find out more about how the industry works, another to pick up business skills, another to gain experience and so on.

Time-related
By what date would you like to pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the completion of your goal? A goal without a deadline becomes a vague intention. The deadline can move, of course, but having a set date allows you to form a more effective plan to achieve the goal and a way to track your progress. And, let’s face it, it marks the goal as a priority so you’ll actually do it.

Use the SMART way to set your goals instead of resolutions and you’ll see success in 2016.


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