The new year is around the corner and so most of us will be reflecting back on the year that was. When you look back, will you be proud of what you accomplished or disappointed you didn’t do more?

One of the best ways to make sure that next year’s reflection is more accomplishment than disappointment is to set goals now for 2015.

During one of the podcasts that I listen to, the speaker said that the best time to set goals is before the holiday season. This is because we usually get so busy and caught up with end of the year projects, visiting family, and the usual holiday activities. So that is why you should start planning your goals for the coming year.

You are most likely a person that wants to get the most out of life and one of the best tools for that is setting goals. Goals give you a deadline, pressure, structure to carry out tasks. It gives you a track to run on and helps cut opportunities that would derail you from reaching your destination.

You must keep in mind that your accomplishments can only be as great as your goals. So, how do you make great goals?

There are 5 guidelines that will make sure that your goals are great and that you see a higher level of success at the end of 2015. The easy way to remember them is to use the acrostic S.M.A.R.T.

  1. Specific. Your goals cannot be vague or ambiguous. For example, you wouldn’t say “I want to lose some weight or earn more money next year”. Instead you would say, “I want to lose 20 lbs. or earn 5% more next year”. Another frequent vague goal would be a relational goal (i.e. be a better husband, father, boss, teammate). That is your “what”, but you need to drill down and specify your “how”.That could be taking your spouse on 24 dates, attending 75% of your kid’s sporting events, or treating your office to lunch once a month (Dave Ramsey does that last one and he has 440+ team-members). If you don’t set a specific target, you have no idea what you’re shooting at, which will lead to frustration instead of a sense of accomplishment.
  2. Measurable. If you’re goal cannot be measured, then you won’t know how you’re doing. If you take the example of losing weight or earning more income, those are both statistics that can be easily measured by a scale or your pay stub.Relational goals are just as easy. Most need simple math at best. If you’re taking your spouse on a amount of dates or treating your team-members to lunch, then write them on your calendar and check them off as you go.
  3. Attainable. If you want to lose weight, you would research and find that it is healthy to lose 2-3 lbs per week. So, we would back into your total (if you wanted to spread it out through the year) by multiplying 52 by 2 or 3 and get 104 or 156. After that, you can pick a number in there if the amount you want to lose is greater than 100.If you only need to lose 52 lbs, then maybe set that as a goal to accomplish half-way through the year. Relational goals work the same. If you want to take your spouse out 24 times but can only afford 18 times, then adjust or do less expensive dates to get to 24. Do not set yourself for failure.
  4. Realistic. Unrealistic goals are killers. Goals like, I’m going to make 3 times my income from last year or losing 200 lbs in a year. While I know these things happen, it is rare and doesn’t happen without a significant life change (i.e. big promotion, job change, or going on the Biggest Loser).If you’ve been a bad co-worker and your co-workers don’t really like you, don’t expect it to change overnight or even the course of a year. Relational goals typically need a longer time-frame to get to the desired state. So, set an intermediate goal to reach for the next year that gets you one step closer to where you want to be.
  5. Timely. Deadlines give us the necessary pressure we need to keep striving ahead. Otherwise, our goals will float around in space without a chance of seeing completion. Make sure that you take time to really think about how long each goal will take and if you need to break your one big goal up into a few smaller goals. Three easy classifications are short-term (0-18 months), intermediate (18-36 months), and long-term (36-60 months).

Goals can set you free and help you to do the things you want to accomplish and live the life you want. The trick is to consistently reach your goals and then you and everyone else will see a history of success that you will be proud of.

I encourage you to set goals in your personal life, individually and as a family (if you have one), and professionally. Life is too short not to get the most out of it, so plan to get the most of of 2015!

[reminder]What would change in your life if you were to reach your goals this year? [/reminder]

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