Here we are two weeks into 2014. How are those new year resolutions working for you? Statistics show that by now (two weeks into the new year) most people have already begun to sluff off their new resolutions in favor for the old pattern of living life. Forbes magazine found that just 8% of people accomplish their new years resolutions for the entire year. How do those 8% find success?
Set Goals, Not Resolutions
They set goals. Not resolutions. By definition a resolution is an emotional decision for or against something. It’s root word, resolve, speaks of determination. From my own personal experience I’ve learned that New Year resolutions are nothing more than good intentions. In a previous post I shared how good intentions do not equal intentional living. Good intentions are not enough to keep you going for an entire year.
I’m a goal-setter. I’m always pushing to accomplish a new goal. And I love to put my goals in list form. Here are a few of the goals I’ve set to accomplish this year:
*I’m going to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation by December 31.
*I’m going to exercise 3-4 times every week.
*I will read a minimum of 15 books in twelve months.
*We will pay cash for a family vacation this summer.
*We will pay off 2 debts this year.
*I will schedule at least one date night with my wife every month.
My goals go beyond good intentions and answer certain specific questions that make a major difference in my life. Michael Hyatt suggests on his website that your goals should be ‘SMART’.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Action Orientated
R – Realistic
T – Time Bound
I like to use this acrostic to ask questions against my goals to measure their longevity and test their effectiveness.
SPECIFIC – What specifically am I wanting to accomplish this year?
If you’re too vague, you’ll find loop holes in your own goal thus sabotaging you from accomplishing anything. Let me give you an example. I want to exercise more consistently this year. So rather than simply saying “I want to exercise”; I should be more specific by saying “I want to exercise 3-4 times per week.”
MEASURABLE – How will I know if I’ve met my goal?
If you don’t identify the win, you’ll never know if you’ve achieved success or not. For example, I want to read more this year. By placing a number of books I want to read, I’ve given myself a measurable goal to shoot for.
ACTION ORIENTATED – What exactly am I seeking to accomplish?
Not only should you be specific about your goals; moreover, they should focus on the act of doing something. An example of a weak goal would be to say, “I want to be debt free.” A better, more action orientated, goal would read, “I want to pay off two credit cards this year.”
REALISTIC – Is my goal realistically attainable?
It’s a good idea to set goals just beyond your comfort zone. But if you go too far out of reach, your goal becomes unrealistic; thus, discouraging you from completing your goal. As an example, I could set a goal to read 52 books this year (one per week). However, with two kids, a full-time ministry, and several other goals, that simply would be unreasonable and unattainable.
TIME BOUND – Does my goal have a deadline?
It’s important to give an end to your goal. Some of them may be December 31. For instance, I will know by December 31 if I have met my goal to read all of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I will know by the end of each month if I have taken my wife on a date.
There is one final question I have asked my goals which will make or break each of them. Here it is: “What’s at stake?”
It’s not enough to answer these SMART questions that address the what and the how. You must also address the WHY question. What difference will it make in my life IF I successfully accomplish this goal? What difference will it make in my life IF I fail to accomplish this goal? Both are equally valid questions that will empower you when you’re tempted to give up and revert to old habits. As I have listed my goals for 2014, I have included answers to these SMART questions as well as “What’s at stake?” for each one.
So what goals have you set? What difference will they make in the betterment of your life? Let’s start a conversation about what you’re doing to make 2014 the best year of your life in the comments below.