New Year – New Resolutions

Like many of us, for me, 2012 started with new ideas and new goals. Many people I knew had nice simple goals – go to the gym more, eat less chocolate, drink more water. All things that people can keep an active eye on in order to ensure goal achievement. Sounds simple right? In reality, most peoples’ New Year’s resolutions are missing several key components. I’m sure many of you have heard of SMART goals; goals that should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound in order to increase goal achievement. So based on this formula, not only should we strive to eat less chocolate, but we should in fact strive to eat, say, only one chocolate bar per week for the rest of 2012. Great, so that’s certainly measurable, most likely achievable, potentially realistic depending on the quantity consumed in 2011, and timely. So, that’ll work, right….?

My guess would be no. Sure this goal ticks all the SMART goal boxes, but like many New Year’s resolutions, it lacks the why factor. What will eating less chocolate achieve? Is it actually something that you really want to do, or feel you should do? Research has shown that the extent to which a goal reflects one’s own personal interests and values (as opposed to something that you feel obligated to do) significantly impacts on the likelihood that you will successfully progress towards your goals and New Year’s resolutions. Further, planning when and how to perform behaviours can also increase the odds of achieving our goals (Koestner, Lekes, Powers and Chicoine, 2002, p 231).

New Year’s resolutions have the potential to lead to real behaviour change both in our personal lives, and in the workplace. However, to achieve this, we need to not only ensure that our goals adhere to the SMART goal model, but also that they reflect our own personal values and interests, rather than something we feel guilty about, or compelled to do. This time of the year provides us with many opportunities to reflect, refresh, and re-start the year with sound aspirations and goals in mind. So why not try to maximise this? Can you think of a goal that you would really like to achieve in 2012? Then go for it, there’s no time like the present!

Koestner, R., Lekes, N., Powers, T.A. & Chicoine, E. Attaining personal goals: self-concorance plus implementation intentions equals success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(1), 231-244.

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