This article was written by Guy Blaskey for Over the counter Magazine.
It’s that time of year again, where we all promise to be better and do more good things and less bad things in the new year.
New year’s resolutions have a long history (at least according to Wikipedia). Ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year, Romans made promises to the god Janus at the start of January and medieval knights took a “peacock vow” to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry in the period after Christmas.
The fact that we wait until a specific date to change something that we want to change is odd, but we do, so I thought it would be good to look at how we can make sure that we set the right resolutions and make sure that we keep them.
New year’s resolutions are effectively goals, and there a lot that you can do to give yourself a better chance of achieving your goals, whether they are personal goals, business goals, fitness goals or anything else.
A useful acronym to remember is SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-targeted.
Specific. The more specific that you can be about your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. If you want to lose weight (or if you want to get a customer to get their pet to lose weight) having “lose weight” as a goal is too vague. However, if you have a goal of losing 2kg you have a specific target to work toward. This makes you more likely to achieve the goal.
Measurable: To know if you are going to meet a goal you need to know what success looks like. It needs to be measurable. If you have a goal “to sell more” it is hard to achieve because what is more? If you have a goal to sell 25% more you have something clear to aim for, and you know if you have achieved it. If you set yourself the goal of “running a fast 10km run” how will you know if you have succeeded. If you set the goal of “running 10km in under 48 mins”, when you test yourself you either make it or you don’t.
Achievable: People often set sky-high goals that seem near-impossible. Sky-high goals can be very useful; At Pooch & Mutt we have the goal of our products being “The number 1 recommended dog health products”. That is a great goal to have, but it is difficult to achieve this in the short term. The way to achieve sky-high goals is to break them down into small, achievable goals. For example we can have the goal of making a high quality dog food that delivers on what we promise it will. This is an achievable goal, and it puts us on the right track for the sky-high goal. Similarly, once you get about 20 miles into a marathon, then goal of finishing can just be too hard, so you make your goal smaller and more achievable, such as getting to the end of the next mile, or even getting to the next lamp post, you know that you can do that. Once you get there you then set a new, small, achievable goal that keeps you going. A small victory is better that a big failure.
Realistic: Goals should stretch you, but they should be possible. They should be realistic. Success and failure are both habits. If you keep setting unrealistic goals you will keep failing at them and keep failing at more and more things as your confidence gets lower. If you set realistic, achievable goals you have a much greater chance at being successful. The more you are successful, the more goals you will set and the higher chance you will have at achieving them. Success breeds success.
Time-targeted: You need to give yourself a deadline. This is why ‘dieting’ doesn’t work. ‘Dieting’ is vague and has no time element attached to it. If you say ‘I won’t eat any fast-food, chocolate, sweets or crisps for 30 days’ you will lose more weight that if you just say you are ‘dieting’. Plus you will hopefully feel better from eating healthy food and keep doing it. Similarly saying that you want to ‘increase sales’ is meaningless without a time frame. If you say that you want to increase sales buy 10% next month you have a target and a deadline, so you are more meet the goal.