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Get SMART Featured

9:40am EDT July 22, 2002

Remember those New Year’s resolutions you committed to in January?

You resolved to develop your professional and personal life to new heights. You got charged up, excited and determined to follow through. This year, you were going to bite the bullet and actually do what you said you were going to do last January: increase sales, beef up technology to increase productivity, pay more attention to associate contributions.

If you’re like most of us, however, by the end of January, those resolutions have been relegated to the back burner.

A client I coach made multiple resolutions both personally and for her career, but needed to move beyond intent to create results. She accomplish this by setting and evaluating her goals and using a method I call SMART. Here’s how it works.

Specific: Was this goal clear or vague? My client wanted to change careers in 2000 and one day start her own business. That was an intent — and obscure. We evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of her position and determined how her personal values fit into her overall career plan.

Recognizing that her current position did not offer the challenges she was looking for, we broke down the steps she needed to take to find a new position as a business owner.

Measurable: How was she going to track her progress? For this client, a journal writing technique was utilized to plot and guide her course. For visual effect, she drew a line down the middle of a page, placing what she liked about each of her career positions on the right and what she disliked on the left.

By comparing the two, she could easily see similarities that carried through each position, assisting her in determining what steps to take in deciding the type of new position she wanted to explore.

Attainable: Were these goals achievable for her? Without letting the mental gremlins and ‘yeah, buts’ block initiative, could she envision the end result?

Realistic: Was she setting her sights too high? Know the difference between pipe dreams and those that can be actualized by utilizing your skills and values. Instead of striving to become the next Bill Gates, maybe owning a computer services company is more likely.

Timely: What’s the target date for completion? Again, “sometime next year” doesn’t get it. My client wants to have her own business, but does she have the financial, emotional and physical reserves, as well as the social and spiritual reserves to begin this venture? At the moment, her financial reserves are too limited to attempt this.

Therefore, her question becomes, “When do you believe you will have the reserves to leave the position you’re in and still cover living expenses and start-up costs?” A new goal is now in the beginning phases.

For each goal my client set using the SMART approach, we charted action steps toward reaching those goals. She has made significant strides in the last six months in both her personal and career life, aligning herself with the envisioned outcomes.

So why wait until next January to set goals? You can do that any time and take action on those that are the most important to you.

You don’t want to be standing on the sidelines next year wishing you had followed through with your resolutions.

Nancy S. Duffee (NSDCoach@aol.com) is a professional coach and owner of Integrated Solutions in Central Ohio.