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It’s a new year. This is the time when all the morning talk shows will have endless segments about the meaningless resolutions we Americans seem to like to make.

… And then they will start talking about taking bets on how long these resolutions are going to last.

According to Money Magazine, the most popular resolution for 2016 is to “Live Life to the Fullest”. Sounds like something we should all do, but it’s not gonna happen – I’ll tell you why in a minute. Money’s full list of not-gonna-happens, er, resolutions is:

  • Enjoy life to the fullest
  • Live a healthier lifestyle
  • Lose weight
  • Save more, spend less
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Pay down debt

Anyone want to tell me what is wrong with that pie-in-the-sky list of list of goals?

They’re not goals. They’re not even resolutions. They’re pipe dreams.

I know, it’s hard to figure out where to start. Let’s start by looking at what all they have in common: They’re all doomed for failure.

It’s too bad really. The word “resolution” is rooted in the word “resolve”. Resolve is a strong word; therefore, resolution should be an equally strong word, but it is not. According to Webster’s dictionary, resolve means to make a definite and serious decision to do something. Our culture seems to have missed the “definite and serious decision” part, and appears to define resolution as Meh, this sounds good after a few drinks on New Year’s Eve.

What sounds good at 11:30 on NYE probably ends up a lot like the hangover the next day: lasts too long, uncomfortable, can’t wait for it to be over, and no long-lasting effects after it ends [relatively quickly].

The problem with resolutions like the ones above is that they are wishes. Despite all the bottles one might go through on NYE, he or she is not going to find a genie in any of them.

Wishes are useless when it comes to real changes. It’s easy to quit going after a wish.  

Goals are what get things done. If you and I want to make real changes in 2016, we must be SMART about it. That’s right, we need SMART goals, not wishes/resolutions.

Plenty of information has been published on SMART goals (and most of it comes from better-qualified experts than me), so I’ll be brief here (if you want to know more, try this). For brevity’s sake, let me just say that if you really want to get stuff done in 2016, turn your resolutions into goals that are:

                    Specific

                    Measurable

                    Attainable

                    Realistic

                    Timely

So, instead of “Enjoying life to the fullest”, define what that means to you. Does that mean taking two international vacations before year-end? Maybe it means walking every hiking trail within 50 miles during the spring and summer months. Define exactly what that means to you.

Notice how those things are all SMART? They are specific – two international vacations or walking every hiking trail within 50 miles. They are measurable – did you take two vacations and/or hike every trail? They are attainable – you can do each of these things (though you may need a second job to pay for the vacations). They are realistic (you’re not trying to fly to Mars). And, they are timely – by year-end and during the spring and summer are time constraints. 

Now that the hangover is gone, rewrite your resolutions into SMART goals and get stuff done in 2016.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that to make it more certain you’ll accomplish your goals, you need to write them down – and look at them frequently.

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