Each new year brings with it the opportunity for a fresh start, a clean slate, and giving thought to what might unfold over the next 12 months. When setting personal and business goals, it's important to have a plan.
There is a well-worn but still useful acronym — SMART — that's designed to help with setting goals. Here's a quick recap of SMART, followed by three additional ideas to consider when setting goals for 2014.
- Goals should be specific. Instead of setting a goal to "get in shape," set a goal to exercise five days a week for at least an hour and drop 10 pounds by June 1.
- Goals should be measurable. Using the example just given, "get in shape" isn't measurable, but you can track whether or not you exercised five days a week. Come June 1, you can hop on the scale and see how you did.
- Goals should be attainable. Making a goal of double your income is not realistic (unless perhaps you get lucky in Vegas on New Year's Eve). Setting a goal to increase your gross income by 10 percent is.
- Goals should be relevant. This means that the goals you chose to work toward should be relevant to you and your life, not based on what someone else thinks you should do.
- Goals should be time-bound. A goal without an end-date attached isn't a goal, it's a dream. Assign deadlines for the completion of each goal you set.
So, that's SMART in a nutshell. As you think about your goals for 2014, consider these three ideas as well.
Consider something completely different
If you tend to set the same types of goals each year (fitness, money, etc.), consider shaking it up in 2014. Set fresh goals that will test your limits and yet still be within the realm of possibility.
Some examples are: become fluent in Spanish, get funding for a research project, find a life partner, write a book, start a nonprofit organization, apply to law school. Let your mind wander and consider all possibilities. Don’t be afraid to take on a goal that might, at first glance, seem a little crazy. You only live once — don't die curious.
Choose goals for next year that will, when achieved, actually mean something to you. Goals based on important, closely-held values will be the most meaningful (and you'll also be more likely to stick with them).
For instance, if financial independence is an important value, you might set a goal to add a certain amount of money to your retirement plan, pushing yourself more than usual to make that happen. If personal growth is a high value for you, perhaps this is the year you sign up for a spiritual retreat of some sort or hire a coach who is experienced in helping individuals define and find life purpose. Or, if a closely held personal value is protecting the environment, your goal might be to invest in a solar energy system for your home.
Don't go overboard
If you set 15 goals at the beginning of the year, chances are you won't even be able to remember what they are come February, much less be working seriously toward achieving them. If your goals are significant and meaningful, they don't need to be numerous.
About the Author
Karen Childress is Colorado-based a freelance healthcare writer. Read more of her work atwww.karenchildress.com.