I delete any email with the word “Resolution” in the subject line.
Those who know me know I make a fuss about words. I have a list of ‘Dirty Words’ which have been mostly banished from my vocab. Nope, I don’t mean those 4 letter words we use when we stub a toe. [I’m keeping those. I’m from Philly #SorryNotSorry] I mean the words that can be toxic to our mindset.
‘Resolution’ comes to the top of the Dirty Words List this time of year. We mean well, right? New Year, New You. Yet, by definition, ‘resolution’ is the decision to do or not do something. That is it – all or nothing. Want to set yourself up for failure? Then set a black and white resolution. At the first slip up, we default into giving up.
Speaking of wording – ever meet a resolution that was written in positive language? Lose ten pounds. Stop dating losers. Quit carbs. Get out of debt. Be less stressed. Even the language is all wrong. You are already more likely to succeed once you reword ‘Stop eating pasta’ with ‘I’ll enjoy finding new veggie noodle recipes each Friday evening.’
Now that I’ve converted you over to the Anti-Resolution Revolution, let’s talk about how to succeed in 2020 by getting SMARTER about what you want. Think of a goal. Get a pen and paper. Okay, so I’m one of the last pen and paper people. Grab your tablet and follow these 7 steps to a smarter 2020.
Who? When? Where? How?Why?
Take “losing weight.” A more specific version might be: “I am going to lose 10 pounds by July 1st by taking spin class 3 days a week because I deserve to feel fabulous in a bathing suit for my summer vacation.” Don’t forget your ‘why.’ Why are you making this goal? Is it to achieve something else by a set time? Is it because you love yourself and you deserve to feel confident? Remind yourself of your ‘why‘ each day.
How will you know if you are on track with your goal? What does progress look like? Make your goal quantifiable. Let’s use the example of “I will get more clients in 2020.” We can make that a measurable goal by changing it to “I will gain 60 new clients in 2020” so you know that each month, you should be obtaining 5 new clients in order to stay on track to reach 60. This helps you see the progress you’ve made over time.
A goal without action is just a dream. Create action-oriented steps towards your goal. Let’s use that last example of gaining more clients. What actions are we going to take to gain those new clients? Are we going to increase our networking, increase our advertising, expand our referral program? Okay – now each of those 3 actions should be broken down into something measurable (hint: put these in your calendar to review each week.) Suddenly “gain more clients” becomes a checklist to achieve each week. We review it on Monday and check in on Friday: spend 1 hour every Monday finding new networking groups; attend 2 networking events each week; spend 1 hour each week finding new leads on social media; sponsor 1 event each quarter where the audience is my target market; contact 5 current or past clients each month and incentivize them to refer new clients. Action is imperative to success.
It might seem obvious that the goals we set should be realistic. However, when we use simple resolution-style statements, we are ignoring how realistic they may or may not be. This is especially important to consider after we’ve created our action steps. If we are breaking down our goals into actions, we might notice that that one statement is going to take significantly more time than we had noticed. We need to ensure that it is possible to consider the time, energy and resources our goals are going to require. The example above, reaching the goal of “adding 60 more clients in 2020” might take so much time and energy, that you begin to neglect your current clients. If a goal is too lofty, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Often, we don’t realize a goal is unrealistic until we really break it down into a SMART goal.
It is imperative that goals have a timeline associated with them. Each goal should have a target date. In fact, for an even greater success-trajectory, a goal should have multiple check-in points along a timeline. This creates a sense of urgency, keeps us from procrastinating, and keeps the goal at the forefront of our minds. Make your calendar your new bestie. Each action associated with your goal should have its own date of completion. A goal that isn’t broken down into action steps and put into your calendar might as well be dismissed.
More people have heard of SMART goals than SMARTER goals, but I argue that these last two are essential to achieving a goal. Things change in life. Each goal should be evaluated often and perhaps even adjusted. Our goal of gaining 60 clients might have to be readjusted because we secured a significantly larger client who takes up much more time and resources (but results in more pay) than our other clients. Depending on your goal, its action steps, and its timeline, also add to your calendar certain times to evaluate your goal and progress. Is the goal still realistic given the current situation? When measuring progress, have you stayed on track? Will you be able to achieve each milestone in your calendar? When evaluating, we might find that we have been making significantly more progress and can even get more aggressive with our goals.
This is where the ‘all or nothing’ nature of resolutions sets us up for failure. When we are finishing our action steps on time, and making significant progress towards our goal, we need to reward ourselves! This doesn’t necessarily mean treating yourself to a giant chocolate cupcake each week that you went to the gym 3 times a week. We don’t want our reward to impede our progress. Hit the gym 3 times a week for the whole month? Sounds like someone deserves a deep tissue massage! Rewards will not only help keep you motivated through the tough points but also help you recharge and reflect on why you are going after this goal and the progress you’ve made so far.
Now that you’ve ditched the resolution and adopted SMARTER goals, you are already ahead of the game for 2020.
Welcome to the Anti-Resolution Revolution!