SMART Goals: Goal Setting Made Easy

Summary: How is that New Year's Resolution going? 88% of them fail. Increase your odds with SMART goals (Tweet This!)

With the first few weeks of the new year over, most of us have put our nose to the grindstone. (Who thought of that saying? Sounds painful!) It's a good time to ask: how are your New Year Resolutions going? If you are like many, they are already starting to fade away. In fact, statistically, around 88% of you are going to fail at your New Year Resolution. If you are like me, you may have stumbled onto the road of failure by accident. By this time, I had hoped to have 60 articles completed for this website. I am lucky if I have a third of that. What I do have is about 250 articles outlined with a ton of research. That doesn't count for much, unless I get to writing them.

This website isn't about dwelling on the past. We aim to be better than that. How can we do that? According to the article, we should focus on being self-aware. We know what our problem is and now we know it is going to be difficult to tackle it. It turns out that people have limited willpower. When we are presented with a few mental distractions we don't have the willpower to concentrate on our goal. One way to limit the mental distractions is to practice a lot of the productivity tips we'll cover here over time.

While that 12% success rate sure seems daunting, another study showed that it can be improved upon. Men are 22% more successful when they engage in goal setting or kept an eye on the prize. If my goal is to save up enough money for a new car, I would be best served by setting up a financial plan for how much I'll need and putting a putting a picture of the car on the refrigerator. Women are 10% more likely to succeed when they have the support of their family or friends.

I'm not going into how to go about keeping your eye on the prize here. We'll cover staying motivated in other articles. I trust you can figure out the best way to do that. At the end of the article, I'll give you a tip on how to bring in the support of family and friends. Before we get to that though, we'll cover goal setting. It is one of those things that make you want to scream, "Why didn't they teach me this in school?" One of the best ways to set a goal is with SMART Goals.

Setting Goals the SMART Way

taylor-lautners-abs

Picture of Taylor Lautner = wrote this originally in 2010

Some of you have heard about SMART goals before. For those who aren't familiar with the term it is simply a mnemonic device to remember a set of steps crucial in setting goals. There is some debate about what SMART stands for, but it usually goes something like:

  • Specific - What is the goal? You don't want to set a broad goal such as "be healthier in the new year." You want a better goal such as "lose weight this year."
  • Measurable - My goal above of losing weight this year, was specific, but it wasn't very measurable. A measurable goal may be to lose 25 pounds by the end of December.
  • Attainable - Is my goal reasonable? I think losing 25 by the end of December is quite attainable (depending on how much they currently weigh). However, if my goal were to have Taylor Lautner's abs, I may find that the exercise time necessary doesn't fit with my other priorities. Perhaps after the 25 pounds weight loss, Mr. Lautner's abs becomes my next goal.
  • Relevant - Does the goal matter to you? Is it something that's really worth working for? I think for many people losing weight is a relevant goal. If you are already in a healthy range, your effort may be best spent elsewhere.
  • Time-bound - When do you expect to reach this goal? Our goal of losing 25 pounds by December is indeed time-bound, so it technically passes the test. However, I would suggest smaller goals like losing 4 pounds by the end of the month. (Yes that should sound familiar.)

That gives us a good template for goal setting. However, let's get a little greedy and see if we can do a little better. Some people suggest that you can make your goals even SMARTER.

Setting Goals the SMARTER Way

You can take a SMART goal and make it SMARTER by adding a couple more steps.

  • Exciting - You should be excited by your goal. I've found that the first step to success in almost anything is being excited about doing it. Losing 25 pounds may not sound all that exciting. I imagine that's why many people fail to lose weight. However, many people get excited to play tennis or going for a hike. Those are a couple of ways to make losing 25 pounds a bit more exciting.
  • Recorded - The idea here is that you record your progress as you go along. This provides you with great feedback. If you are falling a bit off track and are recording your progress, you'll be able to make the necessary adjustments.

Now it's your turn, what do you to master the art of setting and attaining goals?

Don't Forget the Motivation

Remember that tip that I promised above? Here it is:

Motivate yourself with a commitment contract for better results:

It's great to have goals, but often the biggest barrier is having motivation to get them accomplished. Some people are naturally motivated. Others need a little more help depending on the task. If you find yourself in the latter group, I highly recommend making a commitment contract.

This post involves:

Mind, Planning, Productivity

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How To Fail: Lessons From Be Better Now’s Five Year Failure

Summary: Sometimes you can learn more from failure than from success. (Tweet This)

In 2009, I had a grand idea. I was going to take everything I learned about blogging over the previous three years and make a great site for the new year. I was going to show the world how to kick off a decade.

Success or Failure

The result: World 1, Brian 0. Give credit where credit is due.

It's January of 2015, and Be Better Now has relaunched for the second time. It's human nature to say, "this time it's different" even when it isn't different. So I thought it would be valuable to look back on what went wrong before. I might be able to learn from it and avoid the same pitfalls this time around.

If we are lucky, we can might be able to take things a step further and discover why some projects fail in general.

How To Fail

Take on Everything!

If you haven't noticed, Be Better Now's goal simple and well-defined: Be everything to everyone. That's not just a recipe for failure, it is a whole failure dish cooked and served.

Unfortunately the new goal is still to be mostly everything to everyone, but I'm focusing more on how life is synergistic and how improvement in one area of life can lead to others. Conversely, problems in one area in life can lead to problems in others.

Bite Off More than You Can Chew

I run the web servers, coded the design (except for the logo), and some of the customer features (such as the reading time and summary box at the beginning of the article) myself. That's why some of this site looks like it was developed in 2010 and some of it looks like it was designed in 2015.

I also write all the articles, find all the pictures, and run the social media accounts. Sometimes I tell myself I should be a little more lazy.

Not Block Off Time for the Project

I've spent the last seven years educating people about pyramid schemes pretending to be legitimate multi-level marketing (MLM) companies. Every MLM claims it is legitimate, but when you stack it up to the FTC's guidelines or this awesome primer on pyramid schemes, they all seem to fail. These pyramid schemes cause billions of dollars of financial harm every year.

I still feel it is important to help those people caught in the pyramid schemes, but I also want to help the 95%+ who are wise enough to avoid them in the first place.

I got a little off-track there. The point is that I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. I'm expecting that I'll learn how to be more productive with this website and accomplish more.

As Jack Johnson says in the video below, "Who's to say I can't do everything. Well I can try."

While on the topic... The song is the unofficial theme song of Be Better Now. And the Curious George movie is my favorite thing to watch with my kids.

It Wasn't the Right Time for Be Better Now

Three years ago, we got news that we'd be introducing our first baby into the family. Now we have two children. I've had my hands full with them the last few years. I'm parenting like Ralph Hinkley's flying, I seem to have no received the manual.

As I mentioned in How To Be Happy, one of the ingredients of happiness is meaning. For me, that's creating something great.

Schools teach our children so much. However, there are a lot of life skills that aren't taught. I was never offered a course on personal finance, productivity, or organization. There were some classes on health, but they didn't talk about the psychology of motivating yourself to get exercise. I'm hoping that years from now, I can show my kids this website, and say, "Here are some of the things I've learned in this life. Incorporate what you find useful in your own life and you'll be years ahead of where I was when I was your age."

... and of course they'll ignore me. That's why it is extra important that you find value in this website.

I Tried to be Perfect

Doubts Kill More Dreams than Failure Ever Will

Doubts Kill More Dreams than Failure Ever Will

Even today, it claws at me that the design of this website isn't where I want it to be. I want to add information in the design that tells you how much I appreciate you sharing the articles you like. It really means the world to me and I need to express that at the bottom of every post.

I want to be active on social media. I want to learn how to create awesome Pinterest boards and add pictures here that people will want to pin and share.

I want the first impression of this site to be, "Wow... I've never seen anything like this before!" I have a whole design for the home page that doesn't look like a typical blog.

There's a famous saying... Perfect is the enemy of good. That's never been more true of this website. I can spend a day learning how to get nice rounded corners on boxes, but in the end you are coming here for the articles. I need to focus on them and let the design evolve over time.

I hope your first impression of this site isn't as bad as I imagine it in my head.

What Makes This Time Different?

There are a few things that are different this time around.

  1. I still think that this website should do everything, but I realize I've got years, hopefully decades, to write. Self-improvement isn't going away any time soon.

  2. I'm still biting off more than I can chew, but I also have a huge head-start from my past missteps. I have hundreds of titles of articles that I intend to write. I have dozens of outlines written. I even have a few complete posts.

  3. It's the right time for Be Better Now. The kids are at the right age where they sleep at night. Plus, I only have 15-16 years before I send them off to college. Any more stops and I'll turn around and see that they're all grown up.

  4. I think a "launch and revise" plan is wiser than waiting until everything is perfect. To quote the great philosopher Malcolm Reynolds, "That's a long wait for a train don't come."

The time for failure is over.

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Be Better Now

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