Instead of resolutions I encourage clients to establish goals. While resolutions are blanket statements delivered to the universe with no plan of action, no reference and no structure of measurement, SMART goals are Smart, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. Let's examine each component.
A specific goal answers the who, what when why questions. For example your New Year's resolution might be to start your own business, but your SMART goal will assist you in the planning of this project by answering the following questions:
What business will I start?
Where will my business operate?
Who will be my partners? Who will I need to work with?
Why is this business important to me?
When will I start?
A measureable goal is one that has milestones. Instead of setting the resolution of losing 25 pounds, a SMART goal might be to lose two pounds per month for the entire year of 2010. This way each month you are charting your loss and you can see what works for you and adjust monthly if you find a certain workout or nutrition plan isn't doing what you expected. Also a measureable goal leaves less room for surprise at the end!
An attainable goal is a large goal that is broken down into smaller, easier to accomplish parts. Take the weight loss goal for example. By breaking down the 25 pound goal into 12 smaller parts, you get to celebrate and encourage yourself along the way. Are your goals for 2010 attainable?
When first introduced to the SMART goal system I fought the realistic part. I thought who am I as a coach to tell someone that their goal is or isn't realistic, but working with clients every day has shown me why this is important. I believe that where there is a will there is a way, but I also believe that personal and physical factors can influence our ability to overcome certain challenges. I would never tell someone that they can't accomplish a goal, but we may need to determine whether or not you need additional time or resources to proceed.
Finally your goal should be time-bound. You should define start, end and check in points on the road to achieving your goal. If, for example, your goal is to write a book, you might want a date for your chapter outline, dates that each chapter will be completed, a date that the draft will go to your editor, etc. Making your goals timebound encourages constant effort. Trust me it works!