I've never been big on resolutions as we traditionally think of them. You know, "be healthier in the new year" sorts of things? Because what does that actually mean? As I pointed out last year, I've always loved setting goals, because there are few things as satisfying as crossing them off the list once they're done.
My goals for 2013 are not all going to be crossed off the list before tomorrow is over. Some of them (trip to New Orleans) we'll add to the list for 2014 and others (monthly interviews) will simply be things I failed to accomplish. But there was also the trip of a lifetime to Telluride that I was fortunate enough to take with my mom and sisters, the successful school bake sale, the new (wonderful!) bedding for our bed, and a bunch of other things that may not have happened had I not sat down and (using these 5 attributes) spelled out clearly what I wanted them to be.
If you're looking to set good clear goals for 2014, here are the 5 attributes of SMART goals:
1) Specific. In the case of most goals, specificity is the most important attribute. "Exercise more" is not specific. "Exercise at least 3 times per week" is much more specific, which makes it less daunting and easier to accomplish. Once you've made it specific, applying the rest of the criteria is a breeze.
2) Measurable. It's important to know how you'll know if and when you've achieved your goal. "Enjoy life more" is not measurable. "Take a dance class" is something you can measure. Did you sign up? Check. Did you show up? Check. Did you shake your booty? Check.
3) Attainable. Setting unattainable goals is almost always counterproductive. Let's be honest, "Save $50,000" is not a good goal if you are a substitute teacher. "Save 10% of all earned income" is more realistic, even if you are a substitute teacher.
4) Relevant. An irrelevant goal is a dumb goal. Don't set your sights on something that isn't worthwhile. If it's not going to make you happier, healthier, more content, more compassionate, smarter, or better, don't make it one of your goals!
5) Time-bound. This attribute is typically the game-changer. Once you've set a time limit on your goal, it becomes clear what you need to do right now today to accomplish it. "Help others" is not only not specific, it's not time-bound. "Sign up to volunteer at Denver Rescue Mission once each month in 2014" is more specific, and also time-bound. Keep in mind you want it to be attainable too, so be realistic about how much time you'll need.
Dann and I are planning to set our 2014 goals tomorrow. What about you? I'd love to hear what resolutions/goals/hopes/dreams you have for 2014!