So why do New Year's resolutions have such a high #FAIL rate?
- A long time horizon. You're giving yourself a year to meet a goal. That gives you a preposterous amount to time procrastinate. You have 12 months to lose 20 pounds! You an always start hitting the gym next week...
- Vague objectives without a finish line. Wanting to read more is great, but why? And how are you going know if you're reading more? We're not saying you should read a book a day so you can brag about being a man of learned words. But you should have a fixed, specific goal in mind to know if you're actually, you know, improving your life.
- Unrealistic goals. We're all told to reach for the stars, but doing so has A LOT of downside. When we don't accomplish a pie in the sky goal, we get discouraged and beat ourselves up for failing. Instead, we should be thinking of an absolute minimum we can do, especially if you're starting something new.
So what should you do instead? Don't be dumb, be SMART. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
I can see you rolling your eyes, but here's the thing: setting goals using SMART will make you much more likely to actually do the stuff you've been saying you want to do for years.
Specific: You want to exercise more. OK, well what training program are you going to do? How many times a week are you going to workout? Also, why are you exercising, to lose weight, improve your mental health, or get jacked? No matter what your goal is specific allows you to focus that one thing you need to get done today.
Measurable: You want to read more. Does this mean a certain number of hours a week? Four books a month? 30 minutes before bed? You don't have to be anal about it, but being vague is your enemy here.
Achievable: This is where a lot of goals go to die. When we set goals, we're optimistic and excited, thinking we can rule the world. We tend to overlook obstacles that may slow us down. It's always better to undersell and overdeliver. You'll be more motivated to keep going if you're hitting smaller goals rather than slaving away for a year on a big, unrealistic goal.
Relevant: Why in the hell do you want to do this in the first place? Do you want to buy a condo because you just went to your boy's new place over the holidays? If you want to make more money this year, great, but you might want to ask yourself what you're going to use the money for first. Make sure you're setting goals for you, and not for external validation.
Time-bound: Long-term planning is fine, but having a New Year's resolution with a 1-year window is a recipe for failure. A resolution to get your dream job is great, but it's a huge goal. By breaking it down into smaller pieces, you'll have a much better chance of succeeding. Maybe you'll send out 3 outreach emails a week, or apply to 10 jobs this month. Giving yourself a shorter deadline keeps you accountable and more likely to achieve those smaller goals.