Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Think Up A Resolution You Can Stick To

Story of the New Year. We make a resolution or three, tell ourselves we'll make the time, recite to our bathroom mirror, and...we fizzle out a couple weeks in. No lasting change.

Depressing, isn't it? Now, what if I told you there was a method with which you could set 2007's resolutions in stone before the year even starts?

It's called the S.M.A.R.T. principle.

Time management gurus love it. Many successful executives rely on it. (The rest of us drag it out when we slow down enough to remember its usefulness!)

You may have heard of it already. If not, here's what it stands for.


Smart. Get it? *rimshot*

Here's what you do. It'll take 10 minutes.

Let's say your goal is to lose weight. (The #1 resolution in America, several years running.)

Get a notepad. Write down the left side, "S--" "M--" and so on. Here's how I get S.M.A.R.T.

For S, go for either number of pounds to lose or duration you will stick to an exercise regimen. I prefer the latter. Try a 3-month period to start. Once that ends, you'll have incorporated the regimen into daily life - you won't want to give it up!

For M, write out an image you want to see occur at the end of your specific goal. In the case of weight loss, it might be, "Look at self in mirror and realize you're more attractive than ever."

A, list a few steps on how to make the goal attainable. Weight loss (and other goal-accomplishing) tips abound on the Web. Put in a couple that resonate with how you feel about your goal. One good idea here would be reaching milestones after a certain time - say, 10 pounds lost by the next month.

R, write out what you'll do for yourself when you reach those milestones. Weekend trip to another city perhaps, or a night out at a live band or a comedy show. Make it something to look forward to, and reachable via your goals.

T is very open to interpretation (I partially covered it with S, in fact). For weight loss, I'd go with setting down the amount of time you'll dedicate to exercising per week. Then you can break that down on an individual weekly basis, if you'd prefer.

Applying the S.M.A.R.T. principle to other resolutions is just as easy. These 5 aspects work for every goal worth striving toward. To keep things realistic (and attainable), I'd say go for a maximum of 2 goals. I like sticking to one, but if you can pull off two, go for it.

Most people who use the S.M.A.R.T. principle do so in the context of business achievement. But there's nothing that says you can't use the method to achieve other types of goals. Take 10 minutes sometime after Christmas, pull the resolution in your head into the spotlight, and lay out how you'll get there. Once you do, you've already started toward achievement.

That's all folks! I'll see everyone next year. Designate a driver, try not to harm family members, and look forward to a successful future.



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