Setting SMART Goals for the New Year

December 16, 2015 by Ed Weirauch

In a matter of days, 2016 will be here.  Are you ready?  There’s a simple yet highly influential way to make the new year a good one: set goals for the new year.

Workplace with tablet pc showing calendar and a cup of coffee on a wooden work table close-up.jpeg

Not resolutions but goals.  Resolutions can be as fleeting as a happy new year wish because all too often they are after-thoughts or just conversation fillers.  When we set goals and really invest ourselves in them, they are far more likely to be achieved.

Here are some steps for setting goals for the new year and actually achieving them. If the steps sound familiar, ask yourself if you have ever really worked through this process.  Commit yourself this time and you’ll experience a better outcome.

The first step is to envision your goal.  Then make sure its “SMART.”

If your goal is a new job or a promotion, imagine yourself in that job, with those responsibilities and opportunities. Now think about the ideas you bring, the initiatives you would suggest and even the accomplishments you will achieve.   Don’t just daydream, really invest your time and thought in this.  Envision yourself this time next year… you have achieved your goal, what’s different from today?

Now that you know where you want to go, you’ll likely get there by being SMART… an acronym that cuts across all companies, organizations and institutions.  Here’s what these letters stand for:

S          be specific in your goal

M         make it measurable

A         make it attainable

R         make it relevant

T         set a time frame or deadline.

So let’s start by being specific.  What’s the job title you’re aspiring to?  Make a list of employers who may be looking for your skills.  Get past “I’ve got to get a new job” to “I want to be in xxx job at yyy company,” or something similar.  Here’s an analogy: Who’s more successful, a dieter who says “I want to lose weight” or the person who says “I want to lose 50 pounds”?  Almost always it’s the latter.

Make it measurable.  Here’s how: you have to network to land that new job.  So you commit to, let’s say, eight networking meetings a month over the next three months.  Keep track so eight doesn’t become three or four.  If you find yourself right on track, great.  If not, what do you need to do to get to those eight meetings.

Be realistic and make your goal attainable… ambitious but practical.  If your current job has you on a front line, maybe four networking meetings a month is more attainable.  Also, wishful thinking can be reigned in by thinking about attainability.  “This time next year, I want to be president of this company.”  But you’re in an entry level position today.  That might not be attainable but a promotion into management might be.

Similarly, make your goal relevant.  If your objective is to get a better job, setting a goal of a vacation to Hawaii isn’t real relevant.  If you’re successful, such a trip is possible but not really relevant to your career goal. Ground yourself, be practical and you’ll be more likely to determine and achieve an attainable and relevant goal.

For many of us, timeliness can be the most important factor.  When we know something is due, aren’t we more likely to at least work on it as the due date nears?  Practically speaking, which of these just sounds better:

“I want a new job…”

“I want a new job by January 30…”

Time motivates.  It structures our efforts and focuses our vision.  How many people (both brides and grooms) do you know who set out to lose weight by their wedding day… and succeeded?  That’s the time factor.

Now that you’ve been SMART, follow these last three steps to make your goals for the new year real.

  • Tell someone: a well-chosen friend, your spouse/partner, your mentor, a career coach. This provides another level of motivation.
  • Write down your goal, preferably on paper, and post in a spot that’s highly visible to you.
  • Review your progress once a week or month. Adjust as needed.


So now go for it!

Ed Weirauch

Ed Weirauch

Resume Writer | Career Transition Coach | Public Relations | Career Assessments

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