Goal Setting for the New Year and Any Other Time

So here it is again, a New Year and time for new goal setting. This is a great time to review your accomplishments last year and start planning a New Year's resolution to achieve something big in the year to come. The biggest problems most people have with achieving goals they set are lack of follow through and commitment. Majority of people don't even set goals for New Year and of those that do less than 1 in 3 actually accomplish those goals. I believe the main reason that people fail at goal setting is that they don't take the time to properly define their goal and create accountability for achieving that goal.

In order to do good goal setting you have to phrase the goal in a SMART manner. SMART is mnemonic used in project management that serves as a way of evaluating the goals.

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R - Realistic
  • T - Time-bound

So if you take a fairly common goal like "I want to lose weight this year" and run it through the mnemonic you quickly realize that goal setting this way has some serious flaws that will prevent you from achieving it. So let's work on the weight loss goal a little as an example.

Let's rephrase the goal as "I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1st"

Much better, and we almost have it nailed. Now we have a goal that is specific (20 pounds), measurable (can step on a scale), attainable (shouldn't be a problem if you are overweight), realistic (yep, it is possible but we will touch on that some more in a minute), and time-bound (by June 1st)

Now that we have the goal properly defined we need to make sure it is an adequate challenge. If the goal is too far off or easy it doesn't register as a priority. So assuming a 1-2 pound a week weight loss we can say this goal should be accomplished in 10-20 weeks. To keep the pressure on but not too tough we can shoot for 15 weeks which brings the date back to April. You could also up it to 30-35 pounds and keep the summer goal. So let's do that, 6 months is about 24 weeks at 1.5 pounds a week average and we will round down and go for 35 pounds. Let's also clean up the verbiage a little to be a little more positive than just "wanting to" lose weight.

I will lose 35 pounds by June 1st 2011.

"A goal properly set is halfway reached." -- Abraham Lincoln

Now we are getting somewhere. Another big aspect of goal setting and their achievement is having accountability. If we just say this goal to ourselves a couple times in January it will be a fading thought come March. If we write and down and post it on the fridge it will be a little more in our minds but not really doing much to motivate us to go to the gym or eat right. A better idea would be to tell other people about the goal so they can ask us about it. Even better would be to publish it somewhere you will constantly see and tell everyone you know.

So head on over to your Facebook page and change your status to "I will lose 35 pounds by June 1st be sure to ask me about my progress and keep me on the path!". Then go ahead and post a current photo of you and label it "before". Now you have social accountability and the goal is documented. If you fail everyone will ask why you didn't follow through and assume you like being fat.

So there you go you are now far ahead of everyone else who will set New Year's resolutions because you have defined your SMART goal, made it something important to you, ensured it was challenging enough, and created some social accountability for achieving the goal.

Now that all the hard stuff is done all you have to do is remember that this goal is important to you and do something every day to work toward the goal. If that doesn't keep you motivated think about how you will feel one year from now. Most likely you will be regretting not doing it this year and proclaiming to do it next year all over again. Get it over with and get started today. If you need more information I have a free worksheet available you can download right now. It's in PDF format so that you can just print and define your goals.

gain 41 lbs of muscle in 24 weeks

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