Following up on two recent articles about New Year’s resolutions, “Should You Make a New Year’s Resolution?” and “Why New Year’s Is Such a Good Time to Make a Resolution,” today’s article takes a quick look at the kinds of goals that make good resolutions.
The summer before last I posted “One Good Way to Judge Goals: S.M.A.R.T.,” which lays out some advice about goal-choosing from a personal development site called Mindtools. Mindtools offers a set of very constructive ideas in recommending that we choose a goal that is “S.M.A.R.T.”: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. To put it another way, they suggest that we should choose one particular goal rather than a general area of improvement, that we find a way of telling as we go exactly what kind of progress we’re making, that our goals are realistically possible, that they really matters to us, and that they can be accomplished in a specific period of time.
There’s a lot of useful material in this approach, but there are also a couple of things to be cautious about. For instance, make sure what you’re measuring to make the goal measurable is something that truly reflects your goal. It’s sometimes easy to measure something that’s easy to track but that doesn’t really show how you’re doing. For a popular example, see “Why Weighing In Is a Poor Way to Measure Progress.”
Second, you will probably be best served by a goal for your own behavior instead of a goal for results you want to get, because you can’t always control results, but you do always have influence over your behavior. Focusing on results rather than the process you want to follow to get those results can make it harder to figure out what to do and can sap enthusiasm when the results are affected by things outside your control.
Napkin by jonny goldstein