September 28, 2015 · soft skills

Soft Skill Tip of the Week - Goals Not Resolutions

resolutions

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Abraham Lincoln

We're three months away from 2016. How are you doing with your 2015 resolutions? Do you remember what they were? If you're not doing as well you wanted, I think you should switch your mindset from resolutions to goals.

Resolutions are generic ideas and difficult to measure

A popular resolution is to "get in shape." How do you define 'in shape'? Does it mean you want to lose weight? Or maybe you're actually saying you want to eat less calories? These kind of fuzzy resolutions are hard to act on. At the end of the year, there are many ways to determine if you are in better shape.

If you want to set yourself up for failure, make sure you use fuzzy resolutions

This is where goals are perfect. Goals are specific and easily measured. At the end of the year/month/day you can see how well you're doing.

Rather than "get in shape" use something similar to: "I want to go to the gym 3 days a week." Specific and easily measured!

How to set better goals

If you haven't set your goals for 2015, there's still time to get started. I recommend using Dan Miller's Goal Setting Worksheet. Print the worksheet and take your time on each page. It will walk you through 5-year and 1-year goals for different areas of your life.

Start with SMART goals

When setting goals, it's helpful to use the SMART mnemonic:

Specific - You have a better chance of accomplishing a specific goal than a generic one.

Measurable - Imagine a goal that says, "I want to be rich." How do you measure 'rich'? Make the goal, "I want to have a net wealth of $10 million by the time I'm 50."

Attainable - "I want to be a doctor by November 1, 2015." Unless you're finishing up your residency, it's not going to happen. That doesn't mean you can have big goals, they just have to be realistic.

Relevant - A goal to brush your teeth 30 times in one day is specific, measurable and attainable. But it lacks relevance. The goal must be relevant in your personal or professional life.

Time-bound - Give your goals a time constraint. I have a goal to finish this blog post in 45 minutes. So far, I'm on track

Write them down

Dan Miller's goal worksheet from above forces you to write your goals down. If you don't use the worksheet, you can use regular pen and paper, or an online tool like Evernote.

When you write your goals down, you're committing to them.

Use an accountability partner

Find someone who will help you keep you to your goals. Going to the gym with someone else always makes it easier to get motivated. You end up being accountability partners for each other.

Up the stakes

If you want a more extreme version of an accountability partner, check out stickK.com. After setting your specific goal and an accountability partner, you can raise the stakes with money. If you don't reach your goal, stickK will take the money you pledged and give it to a charity or organization you don't like. stickK has found that people who put money on the line are three times more likely to reach their goals!

Evaluate them regularly

If you set goals at the beginning of the year, take time each week, month, and quarter to evaluate them. You might reach a few early and others need to be changed completely.

You'll be saying, "I reached my GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALs" in no time:

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