S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting Habits

By Cassie Stolz

In 2018, the University of Scranton surveyed over a thousand individuals on February 1st to determine how many New Year’s resolutions were maintained through the first month of the year. The small part of the American population revealed only 8 percent of individuals were authentic to their resolution. This number is so dwindled because on most occasions, resolutions are set up for failure. In some instances, we proclaim a statement about living a better lifestyle at the stroke of midnight and never think about it again. Perhaps quality thoughts and reflections of the previous year have revealed a meaningful habit you want to develop, or even remove from your life. Yet despite the validity of the resolution, it still doesn’t become a reality. A major contributing culprit to the disappointment following these resolution traditions is that the goals were too broad and unsupported by an actionable plan. For those of us who have fallen off the 2021 resolution wagon, there are no rules for restarting! Knowing the reason a goal did not pan out as expected is very useful in devising a plan for success.

A beneficial habit to develop when creating goals for all areas of life, whether it be personal, professional, or academic, can follow a useful guideline called S.M.A.R.T goals. These are goals that give action to a plan. A plan that has qualities of being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-limited is designed for victory. For instance, losing weight or getting into better shape is a popular resolution after the winter holiday feasts. By saying a generic statement such as “I’m going to lost 20 pounds in four months” doesn’t allow any power for creating an advisable plan. The constant and deliberate practice of a new behavior is tedious, difficult, and at times downright agonizing. These consequences of a better lifestyle choice parallel by aligning values, a desired outcome, confidence, and self-worth beliefs to give us the internal motivation through a tough change period.

For the individuals who need external reinforcements or assistance with task boundaries, the Ivy Lee Method can be beneficial. The most important daily activity to adopt using this method is writing down the six most important things that need accomplished the following day. Only writing six goals and then prioritizing them in the order of true importance is a realistic use of productivity time. As the new day begins, start by completing the task you

deemed most important and descending down the list. Of course, there will be days that not everything gets completed, so make the left-over tasks the most important for the next day. Adopting this concept can be a simple and effective way to impose structured limits. It assists in avoiding feeling overwhelming and potentially losing the momentum of positive change. Instead, it encourages decisiveness and initiative. Sometimes getting started on a task is the most difficult part, but if we never start, then how can we succeed at the end?

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