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Bicycling Toward Your Success by Setting Goals, Not Resolutions

Happy New Year! It’s 2020! Have you determined what will make 2020 awesome for you? I believe we all have something we want to achieve, either personally or professionally. I’ve decided what I want to achieve in 2020.

Here is how I set myself up for success. I reflect on my previous year. I call it my “Year in Review” activity and I ask myself the following questions:

  • What were my accomplishments?

  • How did I celebrate each accomplishment?

  • What were my challenges?

  • How did I overcome any obstacles?

  • What were the behaviors I displayed that had a positive effect on my goals?

  • What behaviors distracted me from my goals?

  • What resources and support did I lack in the previous year?

  • What resources and support do I believe I will need in the New Year?

Next, I determine what I want to achieve in coming year and I picture myself having already achieved what I want. I ask myself, "What do I look like and feel like having achieved what I want?" It’s also critical that I identify the why behind achieving my goals. The why is important because it is what motivates me and keeps my momentum going to achieve my goals. Once I have a clear picture of what I want for the coming year and why I want it, I create SMARTER goals. SMART goals are a popular tool used in the field of human resources when conducting performance appraisals and setting goals with employees; I added the letters: E and R.

A useful way in achieving your goals is to use the SMARTER mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants, SMARTER usually stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Authentic

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

E – Exciting

R – Recorded

Specific: Our goals must be clear and well defined. Vague goals are unhelpful because they don't provide us with sufficient direction.

Measurable: By determining amounts, dates, and so on in our goals, we can better measure our degree of success. And by all means, take time to celebrate your successes!

Authentic: We are committed to the goal because it feels right for us and it not a result of measuring our self against others, yet challenging enough that it requires us to stretch and try new things. Challenging goals will bring the highest level of personal and professional satisfaction.

Relevant: Goals should be relevant to the direction we want our personal and professional life to go. By keeping goals aligned with our vision and values, we can develop the focus we need to do what we want.

Timeline: Our goals must have a timeline. Having a timeline creates a sense of urgency and provides an idea of how long something might take. It also means we know when we can celebrate our successes.

Exciting: Exciting goals help maintain our interest and keep us motivated to stay on course of achieving our goals.

Recorded: Writing down our goals ensures we can monitor our progress. Having a visual reminder encourages us and holds us accountable.

Some common mistakes I made using SMARTER goals or mistakes I’ve observed in others are:

  • Setting goals not relevant or authentic to me/us

  • Setting too many goals (I set three to five goals that include both professional and personal aspects)

  • Not putting goals in writing

  • Not creating an appropriate daily practice for each goal (most important)

Setting SMARTER goals is the critical step often missed in the process of setting New Year’s resolutions. When stating resolutions, we get focused on the “what” we want the outcome to be rather than “how” to get what we want and "why" we want it. SMARTER goals help us gain clarity of what we want and plan all of the steps that are needed along the way, in other words our “HOW” and “WHY.”

Most people don’t achieve their goals because they haven’t learned the importance of writing them down. By writing down our goals and the individual steps we need to take to achieve them, we can monitor our progress and hold ourselves accountable. I recall reading research that stated we are 42% more likely to achieve a goal we put in writing.

Finally, I post my goals in visible places to remind myself of what it is I intend to do and why I intend to do it. I put my reminders on my bathroom mirror, wall above my bed, my desk, and index cards that I carry in my handbag. My reminders include an appropriate daily practice. Setting SMARTER goals provides a powerful and clear intention for what you want to achieve in 2020 and why you want to achieve it, personally and professionally.

Regardless of what your goals are, you can expect to achieve your goals with careful planning, the commitment to stay focused, and the willingness to hold yourself accountable.

We are one week into 2020, and statistics say 25% of us have already given up on some of our goals at this point. If you follow the SMARTER mnemonic I believe you will be more successful in getting your goals in writing and achieving more of what you want in 2020. Sing the song you came here to sing! Setting SMARTER goals might help you do just that…

What are you waiting on? 2020 is waiting to make you into the best version of you. Start bicycling towards your success.

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