It’s January 1, 2013!! (Well, okay, when this is posted it will be January 2.) That means everyone is going nuts with resolutions for the new year.
And in about a week, the vast majority of those resolutions will be broken. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Resolutions typically are very vague goals or missions that lack any real objectivity – “I want to lose weight” or “I want to spend more time with my cats” or “I want to take a cooking class” – and the missing structure leads to goal achievement failure.
In order to give your goals some real teeth, they should be structured using the popular framework of S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals (or smart goals) provide objective measures and plans for even the most basic and vague goals you might generate. You can convert a “I want to lose weight” goal into an objective statement like “I plan to lose 26 pounds by June 1, 2013.” It’s easy to create an action plan from the second statement as opposed to the first.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Specific – Your goal should explain the who, what, when, where, and/or why.
Measurable – Objective goal statements can be quantified and have a monitoring or measuring system to track progress. The quicker one realizes they have gotten off track (either falling behind or moving too aggressively) the quicker one can re-calibrate their level of dedication of resources.
Achievable – Within the specified time frame provided in the goal statement, are the results possible to achieve? Is it not only possible, but realistic? A goal may be unrealistic if the level of resource dedication (time, money, human, machine) would significantly jeopardize other important initiatives. You may want to lose 76 pounds in five months, but to quit your job and spend all of your time at the gym to do it would prove to be very cumbersome.
Relevant – Your goal should be a game-changer, something where the value of the improvement or achievement far outweighs the costs of completing it. I might want to train so I am able to dunk, but at my age is the level of effort needed going to pay off with a potential professional basketball career? Probably not. (If you want to talk about wicked kickball pitching, you may be onto something.)
Time-bound – Using a set amount of time to achieve a goal creates a sense of urgency and adds structure. “I’d like to lose 26 pounds over the next couple of years” has no urgency with it.
The use of the smart goal structure allows you to then create realistic action plans to achieve your goals and establishes the resource dedication required.
For weight loss, maybe you have a set target for where you want to be in five months. Compare that target weight to the weight you are now. Losing weight could mean finding an optimum nutritional plan and/or investing in a gym membership and running shoes, so once you have a target weight you can start creating your resource investment plan.
Allow me to use an example of a smart goal that matters to me.
One of the things I want to improve is my consistency in blogging. This consistency, in my opinion, comes in two forms: frequency/quantity and depth/length. There were periods in 2012 where I wrote multiple blog posts per day, then long stretches where I didn’t write anything at all. I also had variations on the length of my blog posts. Some were quite short while others were “epic.”
So here are two smart goals about blogging for me for 2013.
S.M.A.R.T. Goal #1: Average five or more blog posts per calendar week (Monday-Sunday) with a minimum of three per week and a maximum of eight per week.
I want to avoid going through blogging droughts and make sure I’m staying current with time-based newsworthy content. By setting a minimum number of blog posts (with a monitoring chart in Excel) I can recognize when I need to devote more time to writing, but by capping the posts at eight I will make sure I’m not losing sight of other activities. A single daily post would be a good rate but sometimes there is a lot of newsworthy content that comes out in a single day.
Is it specific enough? Yes. Is it measurable? Yes, and I included how I would measure it. Is it achievable? I had well over 240 blog posts last year, with a weekly rate of between four and five posts per week. Is it relevant? Seeing how it’s the only way content is created for the blog, yes. Is it time-bound? Yes, it’s bound by week but it’s also a goal for 2013. If my weekly rate of blog posts falls far below five, there better be a really good reason why.
S.M.A.R.T. Goal #2: Write at least two epic blog posts per month (so 24 in all for 2013).
An “epic” blog post, according to my definition, is one that is lengthy (1000+ words), pulls in a plethora of sources, uses multiple relevant graphics, and is something that transcends multiple industries with new enlightenment. An epic blog post is genuinely sharable across multiple platforms (ESPN.com, LinkedIn, etc) and is cornerstone content. Last year I had a couple of epic blog posts – the MLB pace-of-play is one that stands out, and baseball manufacturing in China as a post for LeanBlog is another – but not as many as I would have liked. There are big, big subjects that I hardly touched on at all last year that would use a LOT of research – NFL concussions and the BCS being two ideas – and creating a citation-worthy article with relevant, powerful analysis could bring attention to the blog and to helping to fix big problems.
I have a time-sensitive epic blog post that needs to come out before Friday, one that I’m really excited about. When it comes out, you’ll know.
There is one goal not yet stated that needs the smart goal framework but I’ve not yet established some of the how, what, and when. That goal is to finish the e-book I had started early last year for getting started with Lean. After starting it I acquired other activities that absorbed the time it would require. I have not yet put together the 2013 strategic plan for Lean Blitz but as soon as I do the e-book will be included.
For all of my goals, I intend to show smart goal progress on a monthly basis in blog posts (boom – that’s 12 or so blog posts of content right there). Expect to see graphs tracking the progress and recapping achievements with epic blog posts.
Here is some more content on smart goals.
Excerpt about S.M.A.R.T. goals from “Attitude is Everything” (.pdf)
Writing S.M.A.R.T. goals (.pdf)
S.M.A.R.T. goals template (.doc)
An article about focusing S.M.A.R.T. goals on the outcomes and results instead of the activities too heavily