Beyond New Years Resolutions & SMART Goals: Part I Planning for Success


With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season is well underway which means unless you’re in the restaurant or retail industry, your office is getting quieter. Your coworkers are using up their vacation days that won’t rollover, your customers are busy with other holiday and entertaining activities, and your service providers are wrapping up the end of this year, planning for next.

While this can be the time of year when days seem pass like weeks,I encourage you to take this opportunity to do substantive planning and goal setting to create an actionable plan for an outstanding new year.

Note: Even if it’s not the New Year, don’t wait to create a powerful vision for yourself and set up goals. You can do this at anytime.

This not about making New Years Resolutions that 95% of us do not keep, but rather about creating a plan that is tied deeply to your personal vision and values with support to ensure it has the best odds of full execution.

Great organizations undertake this type of work on a quarterly and annual basis. The large plan is laid out for the year and measured against in predetermined increments. I’m going to suggest in order to be the best leader of yourself and others, you must create your own personal vision, plan and then execute flawlessly.

In this series of posts, I will go beyond the standard setup for goal setting. We will:

  • Set the foundation with vision and values exercises
  • Spend an entire post dedicated to understanding why we don’t accomplish our goals
  • Give you exercises to help get around your barriers, to stay energized and committed to your plan through to completion

I thought SMART Goals were enough, why do the extra work?

So why add all the extra steps? Why do all the extra work? Why not just set a goal and do it?

Let’s use an example of setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal to best explain why vision, values and planning are important additions to success.

Goal: Work out 5 days a week

  • Specific – work out 5 days a week Monday through Friday for 30 minutes at 6:00 AM at the gym across the street.
  • Measurable – I will measure this goal by how many days I work out and I know I will have accomplished my goal by working out 5 days.
  • Achievable – I used to work out 3 days a week, so five days a week seems doable.
  • Relevant – Working out is important, because I like the benefits of feeling good and looking good.
  • Time Bound – I can start this goal next week Monday.

What are the odds of accomplishing this goal? Where does this goal fit into the bigger picture? Why do I want to accomplish this goal besides feeling good and looking good? What could get in the way?

Adding your vision, values and creating a master plan gives you the greater context to answer these questions. In creating a holistic vision for what you want, you tie your goals to the bigger picture. You can see where they fit and what may potentially compete with their success.

By understanding your values, you assess if this goal is important to you. If its not aligned with your values, the chances of success are minimal.

Creating a plan that includes your vision, values and SMART goals gives you the bigger picture of what you want, why you want it and how to make it happen.

Values, vision, goals and plan – what’s the difference?

These are the definitions that will be used throughout this blog series.

  • Values – Values are who we are. They are our beliefs, morals and philosophies that serve as guideposts towards the actions we take.
  • Vision – Future orientated picture of what we want that serves as an inspiration towards formulating our goals.
  • Goals – Something we want to achieve.
  • Plan – A series of sequenced steps and actions.

What’s to come?

There are four posts full of information to set you up for success:

  1. How to conduct a yearly review recognizing your successes while obtaining a baseline for where you are now.
  2. Exercises on clarifying or rediscovering your core values.
  3. How to create a vision, set your SMART goals and lay out the steps.
  4. Explain how competing commitments can sabotage our success and to work with them.

By the end of the series, you will be equipped with the tools necessary to create goals connected to who you are that fit into the bigger picture of your life.

Don’t Wait

Let me repeat, even if it’s not the New Year, don’t wait to create a plan. This process doesn’t depend on the time of year.

So get started and do the year end review to see what worked and what didn’t.


image courtesy: David Villarreal

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