Next year, let’s make it really smarter

How many really made it until today? – How many of the New Year’s resolutions, you set yourself one year ago? None? Let me assure you, you are not alone. According to Inc. magazine four out of five New Year’s Resolutions fail. Most of them don’t even survive the first six weeks of the year.

However, the crux of achieving what is important to you is not (only) a lack of discipline – but often a lack of clarity. The same is true for organisations: leaders need to ensure overarching corporate visions and missions are translated into “SMART” team and personal objectives.

I trust many of you, many leaders are familiar with the SMART concept. And thus, I am often surprised by the lack of its implementation in the real world, I often notice unprecise goals formulations, not promoting alignment of teams around what is to be achieved. So as we are about to enter a new year, I’d like to invite you to stop and have a check on your next year objectives.

 Your leadership objectives – take heart, make it SMART:

Let me illustrate this with a sporting example. Say you’re a keen runner and you want to push yourself further:

Is “I want to do more sports” a smart resolution/objective? No. Better: “I want to run the Berlin marathon in October”. Why?

 –      Make your objective as specific as possible. Turn a great but vague idea (mastering a physical challenge) into a focused and clear target: running 42 kilometres at a stretch. Commit yourself and prove it: sign up for the race.

–      The more concrete your objective, the better you can measure it. Or in other words: “Knowing where you’re going is the only way of knowing whether you’re on track.” Ask yourself: “how will I know very concretely that I have achieved this objective?”

 –      Dreaming big is nice – but turning dreams into reality is even nicer. Be courageous and push yourself to your limits – but choose goals that are achievable! If an amateur runner directly aims at the “Ironman”, failure is assured. A marathon or half-marathon would do.

 –      Concentrate on relevant things. Your time and energy are too scarce to waste on unnecessary projects. So, set priorities! If the marathon is your dream, do it. If not, skip it – and choose a goal that matches your interests and values! Go for what is really important to you.

 –      Set your objectives in time – both short and long-term. If you want to run the marathon in October, start training early. And set intermediate milestone targets along the way. These smaller targets should also follow the above-mentioned principles: when do you want to face 10 or 15 kilometres? Keeping track of your progress will motivate you to keep on going.

 To sum it up: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely objectives? That’s what is called SMART.

A little help: When making fresh New Year’s Resolutions and setting objectives for this coming year, SEE IT, FEEL IT, PICTURE IT, keep your runner in mind: she or he is a symbol for any objective leaders set – whether it is in their private or professional lives.