Tis the season of good intentions. As the old year passes and a new one takes its place many will pause to take stock of where they are, to plan where they want to be, and to commit to actions that will move them from one condition to the other. Some call it making New Year's Resolutions. Others call it "setting goals". Others call it "doing an annual review" or "visioning" or "planning". But, by whatever name, they will do it.
This year, thousands of people will, with the best of all intentions resolve to "loose weight" or to "get in shape" or to acquire this or that skill. And, as the coming year draws to a close, many of those same people will again resolve to "loose weight" or to "get in shape" or to acquire this or that skill, having done nothing to move from where they were (and still are) to where they want to be, or to do what they want to do.
Perhaps, their goals are too ill-defined. It's easy to say "I will lose weight". It's difficult to say "I will loose ten pounds by June 15th and commit to taking the steps necessary to make it happen. It's easy to say "I will get in shape". It's difficult to say "I will run a marathon (or a half marathon, or a 5K) in September" and then commit to doing the training needed to make the dream a reality.
We are told that, to be effective, our goals must be "smart", that is Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. In other words, for each big, hairy, and audacious thing one wants to accomplish, one must be able to state specifically what is to be accomplished, how success will be determined or measured, which very specific actions must be taken when to ensure success, and finally when the effort will be complete.
For example, last year, I challenged myself and invited you to join with me and end world hunger. The SMART Goal came out something like "In 2012, I will work to end world hunger, one meal at at time. Every time I go to COSTCO, I will buy one extra food item and donate it to the local food bank. Additionally, when given the opportunity, I will deliver food from the local food bank to the hungry in my community.
So, how'd I do? Not perfect, but better than I expected. Three or four times, I forgot to buy the food, but that's it. I think I'll keep the same goal this year with the hope of getting it right.
There were other goals, each with one or two concrete actions to accomplish them, and all with measurable outcomes and standards for judging success. This year, there will be more.
The old year is ending. Behold, the new year has come.
Where do you want to be this time next year?
How do you plan to get there?
It's time to roll up the sleeves and get started.