Resolve for Smart Goals

Posted on February 26, 2018

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Chances are you already failed, but don’t worry! Most people do!

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2017 Percent
Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
Quit Smoking 7.1%
Do more exciting things 6.3%
Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
Work out more often 5.5%
Learn something new on my own 5.3%
Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
Find the love of my life 4.3
Find a better job 4.1%
Other 13.8%


Length of Resolutions Data
Resolutions maintained through first week 72.6 %
Past two weeks 68.4 %
Past one month 58.4 %
Past six months 44.8 %

Resolve again!
I’m a fan of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, but it’s easy for those smaller goals to get sidetracked or reprioritized. The City of San Jose has a fantastic formalized Mentoring Program and made an older staff manual of their program available through ICMA. They used a SMART Goal model for the mentorship program and I’ve adapted it for us to use outside that setting.
Goal Setting
A goal is created three times:

  1. First as a mental picture;
  2. Second, when written down to add clarity and dimension;
  3. Third, when you take action towards its achievement.

Why Set Goals
Personal/career goals set a clear direction and focus for the person’s efforts, and provide a way to measure success. Writing down your goals creates the roadmap to your success. The more focused you are on your goals the more likely you are to accomplish them.
What are some areas worth considering when deciding on your goals?

  • Personal development (gaining knowledge, improving a skill)
  • Improving physical health (rest, nourishment, exercise, stress reduction)
  • Involvement with the Community (commitment to serving or helping others)
  • Excellence in your work (developing a reputation for excellence)
  • Career changes (finding a new career path or reaching the next step in your current one)

Think of a goal you would like to achieve this year. 

Break large, difficult goals into smaller, manageable goals. For example, “Reduce stress in my life” is a broad general statement that might be able to be broken down into smaller pieces, such as: Large, difficult, or complex goals can be both overwhelming and discouraging if progress does not come quickly. It is also difficult to know when you have achieved them. The solution is to break the big goal into smaller goals, and creating a separate statement for these smaller pieces.

  • Lower my blood pressure by 10 points.
  • Reduce the negative encounters I have with my boss or coworkers.
  • Start using time management tools that help me to avoid procrastination and missed deadlines.

Examples of Fuzzy Goals

  • Get healthier.
  • Be a better supervisor.
  • Get a better job.
  • Get along better with my boss.
  • Be succes

Choose one of the statements above or create your own fuzzy goal. Break it down into 3 more specific goal statements:

Figuring Out Your Goal Set
Some people have a clear idea of the things they want to accomplish, and others may not even know where to start. If you are not really sure what your goals are, it might help to start by asking yourself some of these questions:

  • What is it that you really want in every part of your life (career, family, health, spirituality, relationships, friends, home, etc.)?
  • If your life were perfect in every respect, what would it look like?
  • If you had everything that you could possibly want, what would you have?
  • If you could design your ideal lifestyle, what would it look like?
  • If you could design your ideal career, what would it be?
  • What is your personal definition of success?
  • What makes you happy and fills you with peace?
  • What would you no longer be doing if your life were perfect in every respect?
  • What habits must you surrender in order to achieve greater success?
  • What are the things in your life right now that aren’t working the way you’d like them to?
  • What are the things in your life you’d like to eliminate or change?

Guidelines for Effective Goals

  • Understandable
  • Relevant to success, performance improvement, skill development or behavior modification
  • Challenging yet attainable
  • Begin with an action verb to provide direction, action, and accomplishment
  • Specific and measurable (or at least observable)
  • Include a target date or time frame for completion


  • Your goal is right to the point
  • What is the outcome or result? What is the action word?


  • You will know when you have reached your goal. Your goals should be measurable and specific enough for you to know unambiguously whether or not they have been completed.
  • How will you know that you have been successful in achieving your goal?


  • Do you have the necessary skills, abilities and resources?
  • You must believe that it is possible for you to achieve the goal or you will not be motivated to try. Limit the number of goals or tasks coming due at any one time to avoid becoming overwhelmed or frustrated.
  • The easy goals build good habits of follow-through and reward you with quick gratification. The challenging goals force you to grow. What if you have goals that depend on other people or involve things that are not in your control?


  • The more fully you understand why you want something, the more motivated you will be to keep working at it until you have accomplished it. Before taking action on anything it is imperative that you ask yourself this key question: “Why do I want to achieve this goal?”
  • Honest evaluation of why you want to achieve the goal can lead to insights and personal discovery.


  • Set a timeframe for completion; should not be open-ended
  • The broad or “fuzzy” goal statements can be “on-going” sustained over time, managed and tracked, but by design, never-ending.
    • EX· “Keep myself in excellent physical condition. “or “Be an honest and trustworthy person.”
  • Goals can usually be broken down into several smaller goals. This is a good way to build confidence, momentum, and establish a track record of accomplishment.

Creating A Smart Goal
Apply the SMART Model to the fuzzy goal you thought of earlier:

  • Is it specific? Do you know what you are trying to accomplish?
  • How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
  • Is it possible?
  • Why are you doing it? Is it an important thing to focus on?
  • Does it have a time frame associated with it?

What do you specifically want to do?
How will you know that you’ve achieved it?
Is it possible to achieve this given current limitations?
Why is it important?
What time-frame have you set for achieving it?
Create a new goal Statement:

Achieving Your Goals

  • Break big pieces of the goal down into small steps.
  • Be sure you’ve identified obstacles and the tasks needed to overcome them.
  • Assign dates realistically. Adjust them as necessary.
  • Think of your goal statements as dynamic, intended to be changed as necessary. Assess the circumstances and modify your goals as necessary.
  • Don’t stop, even if you get side-tracked or discouraged. Just get back on track and keep moving forward. The accumulation of many small steps equals significant progress and the further you go, the easier it gets.
  • Recognize partial accomplishment. Partial accomplishment is still accomplishment.

Refresher Course Over
Go get Sh*t done!

Joey Garcia is an Administrative Analyst with the City of Torrance and he occasionally tweets.

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