Archive for January 9, 2010

Turn your resolutions into smart goals

As we begin 2010, many have gone or are going through the rituals of setting new resolutions. Most of these resolutions will be forgotten a few months later if not days later. The reason is that these resolutions are simply wishes, pie in the sky, castles in Spain or in other words daydreaming. So, what steps can one take to ensure that these resolutions do become a reality? The answer is simple. Turn these resolutions not just into goals but into smart goals.

First, let’s define a smart goal. A smart goal is a goal that is specific, time bound and can be measured. In other words, a smart goal has the following attributes:

T=Time Bound

Goals need to be specific. It’s amazing that people make resolutions but are unclear how to make their resolutions successful. For example, “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough. Would losing 1 lb, 5lbs or 10 lbs be sufficient? A specific goal would be “I will lose 20 lbs.” (Please note that this is not a smart goal but merely a goal that this specific).

A second attribute of smart goals is that they are measurable. To decide whether a goal can be measured, one question that may help is: “How will an impartial observer agree that the goal was completed successfully?” For example, wanting to become “an expert in the C programming language,” is a worthy goal, it is not measureable. Who would decide that I am expert in the C programming language? Is there a body that certifies people as being experts in the C programming language? Then, a better way to make the goal measureable would be “I will obtain certification from the International Association of C programmers as an expert.” Since I know of no such associations, I would suggest to the individual who wanted to become an expert to have as a goal to “write a book in the C programming language by a certain date” or “teach a class in advanced C programming.”

The third attribute of smart goals is that they need to be attainable or achievable. One way to know if a goal is attainable is to ask yourself “how would I get it done?” There is no point for me to plan to be a professional ballet dancer. At my age, I don’t have the body for it and the time commitment that would be necessary. At the same time, too many people have goals that are not enough of a stretch. For me, if I can answer, yes to the following questions, then the goal is game for me: Have other people like me with the same resources reached that goal? Do I see a way to overcome the barriers to the goal?

The fourth attribute of smart goals is that they are relevant. It is important to have goals that are not conflicting; or better yet that tie in to a larger goal, vision or mission. If my goal is to save money to buy a house in 2 years, then a few months later if I set as a goal to buy a brand new car in 12 months, I would be conflicting with my original goal.

Finally, smart goals need to be time-bound. This is an element that’s often missing in most goals. Most people want to do this or that but they have not set themselves a limit to work toward that goal. What is the result? Something that could be accomplished in a year or two may get done in 3, 5, 10 years or never!

If people would take the time to turn their resolutions into written smart goals, I am confident that many of these goals would become a reality. In the next few blogs, I will give some tips to help you get more out of your smart goals.

January 9, 2010 at 10:44 pm 2 comments

Give the gift of life

Recently, I had one of those Eureka moments as a parent. The thought went like this: the best of any gift that we could have given to our children is that we brought them to life in the first place, so wouldn’t the next be thing be to help them prolong that life?

What if we could take actions that have the potential to increase our kids’ life by 10 to 20 years, would it be worth it? How about if it’s merely a 3 to 5 years? Yet, many of the decisions that our kids take or that we set for our kids have the potential to impact how long they live. These decisions not only have the potential to affect how long our kids live but also the quality of life that they will live.

Clearly, no parent would want their kids to grow up smoking or be a drunkard or have their life shortened by something like cancer. However, when we as parents are failing to encourage our kids to embrace other healthy behaviors that have been proven to help increase their life span are we not to some extent implicitly refusing to extend their time on this earth?

Specifically, I think there are two major ways that we can help by a)encouraging health behaviors primarily as it comes to nutrition and physical activity, and b) by adopting these behaviors ourselves. Think of all the kids who will develop diabetes, develop heart disease or even cancer because they were allowed to indulge in all kind of fatty and sweet junk food?

For 2010, my goal is to be first an example at home by leading a healthy lifestyle. When I confided to one of my long-term clients my love for food, she reminded me that I should eat to live and not live to eat. To live by this adage, I will watch my calories, eat healthy portions, balanced meals, have my vitamins and do my exercise 3 to 5 times a week for 30 minutes.

Of course, by being a good example for the kids and embracing a healthy lifestyle, I hope not only to add a few years to their life but also to prolong the time that I get to spend with the grandkids on this earth.

January 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

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January 2010