An enduring annual tradition for me (and I assume for many others) at the start of a new calendar year is making new year’s resolutions.
Another annual enduring tradition for me (and I assume for many others) is that sometime during the new year, often sooner rather than later, any hopes of accomplishing new year’s resolutions are abandoned.
When that that happens to me, I tell myself, “Well… maybe next year”. I do that without acknowledging the same outcome will certainly reoccur without doing something new and different.
This year, my top new year’s resolution is to use new and different approaches to convert more new year’s resolutions into accomplishments.
The approaches in order of importance and execution are:
Embrace a sense of urgency.
Develop SMART goals.
Develop and execute tactics to achieve SMART goals.
Document all SMART goals, and tactics in writing.
Review goal progress regularly.
Regarding embracing a sense of urgency, Professor John Kotter has written, “The single most crucial factor in achieving permanent and meaningful change is a continuous sense of urgency. A true sense of urgency occurs when people acknowledge action on critical issues is needed now, not eventually, not when it fits easily into a schedule. Now means making real progress every single day. Urgent behavior is not driven by a belief that all is well or that everything is a mess but, instead, that the world contains great opportunities and great hazards.”
Regarding SMART goals, they are to be specific, measurable, audacious, realistic, and time sensitive. On the matter of audacious goals, Peter F. Drucker has written “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” In other words, go big on your goals or go home.
Regarding developing and executing tactics to achieve SMART goals, tactics are the necessary next steps in priority order to achieve each SMART GOAL. Professor Gail Matthews has written that the following questions need to be considered:
What exact actions do I need to do to achieve my goals and in what order?
What resources do I need?
Who can help me achieve my goals?
What at potential problems should I anticipate?
How can I address them?
Regarding goal progress tracking, Professor Matthews has also written that “seventy six percent of those who wrote down their goals, took actions on them and reviewed weekly progress reports achieved their goals. This result is thirty three percent higher than those participants with unwritten goals.”
Regarding written records components, the following components are essential:
goal categories, e.g., health, family, personal growth, professional growth, and career. Other essential critical written components in addition to a list of SMART goals are tactics, due dates, current status reports, and notes.
For best results, custom design your new year’s resolution game plan. The exact number of goal categories, SMART goals, tactics, and projected due dates are for you to decide based on where you are and where you want to be on your life journey. All can be kept privately or be shared confidentially with a trusted and supportive coach.
Some concluding thoughts on success with new year’s resolutions:
We live in a VUCA world, a world characterized by high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Despite planning, commitment and hard work, some new year’s resolutions may still not be achieved in one year. That is not a reason to abandon them. SMART goals can and always be rolled forward into a following year.
Happy New Year and all the best on success with your new year’s resolutions for 2024 and in the years ahead.
David Reel is a consultant who provides counsel and services on strategy, advocacy, and media on public affairs issues. He also provides counsel and services on governance, leadership, and management issues exclusively to not for profit membership organizations. He lives in Easton.