According to a new survey by one of Australia’s biggest comparison websites, 58 per cent of Australians broke their New Year’s resolutions in 2015. So, how are you doing so far in 2016? Here Tanja M Jones shares her top tips for turning your ideas into actions.
An anonymous quote that made many of us laugh in recognition last year was ‘My goal for 2015 is to accomplish the goals of 2014, which I should have done in 2013 because I made a promise in 2012 and planned it in 2011’. While funny, there is great truth behind it.
The national survey of 1,059 respondents by finder.com.au found that an estimated 11 million people failed to fulfil their promises to themselves. Women represented 64 per cent compared to men at 54 per cent.
The survey illuminated that as time ticks on we lose ever greater momentum in the fulfilment of our dreams. In fact, 15 per cent of Australians broke their resolutions within three months, whilst 40 per cent had quit completely by September 2015. As for reasons, 25 per cent of those who were unsuccessful reported that failure to keep track of progress was the main factor behind the lack of completion. Making too many resolutions saw 21 per cent fail, while 15 per cent completely forgot what they had promised.
So, what are the secrets behind those who succeed? A common criterion for achieving success is the SMART formula. SMART is a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide the setting of objectives, for example in project management, employee-performance management and personal development. The letters S and M usually mean ‘specific’ and ‘measurable’. The other letters have meant different things to different people; some have also added additional letters.
The SMART formula is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.
The principal advantage of SMART objectives is that they make it easier to understand and recognise when they have been achieved. So what is SMART and how can you apply it to fulfil your 2016 goals before it’s time for 2017?
S = Be Specific and Keep it Simple
Here we establish the what, why, where and how we are going to achieve the goal. It must be clear to avoid confusion, especially if we are enrolling others into the fulfilment of the goal. It must target a specific area for improvement. The scope must be well understood and it needs to detail exactly what has to be done. It needs to be distinct and define as much of the goal as possible, containing no ambiguous language. It should be simple to achieve to avoid perplexity and overwhelm.
M = Make it Measurable and Meaningful to You
We need to ensure achievement or progress can be measured. A measurement gives feedback and lets us know when the goal is reached. We must quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. It also needs to be meaningful. Here we ask ourselves, ‘Why is this goal important?’
A = Assigned, Act as if it is now and make it all-encompassing, Action Orientated
We must define just who is accountable for the fulfilment of the goal and what actions they or we will take to achieve it. The objectives should always be within the grasp of the individuals assigned; unreachable goals ultimately lead to frustration, which impacts productivity and performance. We also need to be all-in, 100 per cent committed, otherwise we simply produce half-hearted results and eventually quit.
R = Reasons, Realistic, Responsible, Relevant
State what results can realistically be achieved, given the available resources. Establish how you will know you can achieve this goal. Business objectives should always be relevant to the broader organisational vision and mission, and this relevance should be communicated.
Realistic goals are designed to be challenging yet attainable within the given timeframe. Clearly define who has the ultimate responsibility for achieving them.
T = Time-based, Towards What You Want
Specify when the result should be achieved. The timeframe needs to be clearly stated and agreed, and should be assertive yet realistic. Goals need to be geared to what you want rather than what will make someone else happy, so avoid people-pleasing.
S = Smile and Be Sincere
Smile in the knowledge that it is happening and be sincere. This is a final point that has been added by many who use SMART to define their goals.
The four cardinal virtues
According to the late, great, internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-improvement, Dr Wayne Dyer, “You don’t attract what you want; you attract what you are.” In his book The Power of Intention Wayne suggests we all practise the four cardinal virtues featured within the teachings of the Hua Hu Ching, written by Lao Tzu:
- The first is reverence for all life. This manifests as unconditional love and respect for oneself and all other beings.
- The second is natural sincerity. This manifests as honesty, simplicity and faithfulness.
- The third is gentleness, which manifests as kindness, consideration for others and sensitivity to spiritual truth.
- The fourth is supportiveness. This manifests as service to others without expectation of reward.
Finally, it is important to remember that progress beats perfection every time. We must keep our goals front and centre via a vision board or digital dream-board (see www.dreamitalive) and remember to have fun along the way. Success is a journey, not a destination.