Forget Resolutions! Here’s How to Set Goals You Can Stick With

2018 is coming on fast and most of us are thinking about what we’d like to improve in the New Year. Whether you’re chasing a dream in life, or dreaming of change at work, one of the best ways to get to your goals is to follow the right map to your destination.

No need to formalize your own goal-setting process with the kind of methodologies you might use to develop a corporate strategy. But, it is helpful to have a mission—a vision of where you’re headed and what it looks like along the way, so you can create a plan with a purpose.

More than making a wish (which is a desire with no measurement criteria) or a New Year’s Resolution (which is a promise with no details to back it up), setting an achievable goal is like making a plan of action. It’s not only focused on reaching the finish line, it’s about the journey that takes you there.

In the long run, the greatest benefit we receive from pursuing our dreams is not the outer trappings of fulfilling the dream, but who we become in the process. –Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, well-known speaker and bestselling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, recommends a simple approach for setting specific, measureable goals, which are also known as SMART goals1.  You can use it as a map for your own goal-setting in 2018 and beyond.

S = Specific
Clearly define your goal, for yourself and so you can share it with others as well. Include details of your desired result. “Get a promotion” is not nearly as clear as “Get promoted to Regional HR Director.”

M = Measurable
Include numbers, dates and other measures as part of your goal. In this way, “Get promoted to Regional HR Director” might include “and gain a 10% salary increase in 2018.”

A = Attainable
Consider how to accomplish your goal within known constraints of time, money and skills. For instance, “Get certificate to qualify for Regional HR Director promotion and gain a 10% salary increase in 2018.”

R = Realistic
Bold goals are admirable, but know your path in life well enough to set realistic goals. As an example, if your company is facing budget cutbacks, perhaps a 5% salary increase is more realistic than 10% in 2018.

T = Time-Bound
Target dates for completion of goals, as well as smaller steps, are useful: “Register for certificate class in March, to earn Regional HR Director promotion along with a 5% salary increase by October of 2018.”

When deciding on your goals and the smaller steps you’ll take to reach them, balance your To-Do list by creating a Not-Do list, too. When we come up with interesting ideas that don’t quite fit in with the goals we’re working on right now, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the specific goal-setting clarity you’re striving for.

To stay focused on your destination, keep a list of the things you won’t be trying to achieve along the way. Even though they aren’t aligned with your plan now, you can come back to these ideas and turn them into new goals in the future!

1, Powerful Goal-Setting Tips for Creating Your Extraordinary Life, on the internet at visited November 15, 2017.


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