SMART New Year’s Resolutions

According to Statistic Brain’s New Year’s Resolution Statistics page, more than 40% of people make at least one resolution as a New Year begins. The site also notes that less than 10% are successful in reaching their goal while more than 42% seem to utterly fail at them year after year. Now it’s time for a moment of truth: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you did, how are you doing on them? If they’re already long forgotten, it may be time to give your resolutions a major boost by making them SMART.

Most people have heard about the SMART framework for goals and objectives. It was a simple little article back in the November 1981 issue of Management Review titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” by George T. Doran. His idea was to make sure each business goal or objective had the following characteristics:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Assignable (who will do it)
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-related (when it will be achieved) 

Going back to Statistic Brain’s page about resolutions, it lists some of the most common ones people make. Not surprisingly, at the top of the list is to lose weight. Writing a goal like that is about as far from SMART as you can get. It’s not specific. You could make it specific by putting a number to it: Lose 80 pounds. Now you immediately have something specific to work towards. But it’s still not SMART. Obviously it’s easily measurable with a scale. Since losing weight is your own personal goal rather than a business goal, it’s kind of automatically assignable, but you should still own it by writing it out as I will lose 80 pounds. It’s getting better but it’s still not SMART. Ask yourself if it’s realistic. You may really want or need to lose 80 pounds, but it might be better to break it up into smaller goals so you get the momentum of early multiple victories. Maybe go for something more realistic like I will lose 15 pounds. That’s better, but it’s still not SMART. The final step of the original framework would to make it time-related (or time-bound). You might write it as I will lose 15 pounds in five weeks. That would mean losing three pounds a week. Seems doable, right? And you’ll be much more likely to reach your goal if it’s SMART because it immediately shows you how achievable it is.

With that as an example, now try applying it to one of your business goals. As I said, most people have at least heard of the SMART framework, but surprisingly few people bother to actually use it, and they’re missing out on the benefits it can bring. Maybe as the New Year rolled in you were thinking to yourself how you’d really like to improve business performance. Well, you can see right away how that doesn’t meet any of the criteria. It’s not specific or measureable at all and there’s no time-frame specified. A SMART goal might look like this: Team X will increase the company’s gross revenues from product A by 10% within the next 10 months. Now that’s a goal you can sink your teeth into! 

Do yourself a big favor and review each of your business goals for 2017 and make sure they’re SMART if you want to greatly increase your chances of success this year.

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