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Productivity Tips

(The Lean Law Firm Blog)

E165: Already broken your resolutions? Try setting SMARTER goals instead

industry challenges process improvement Jan 03, 2023
New Year Resolutions

We’re 4 days into the New Year! We hope you had a great holiday and your year is off to a good start. We got that much-needed rest we talked about in our last tip, had some fun, and ate…a lot. We’re refreshed and ready for all the possibilities that 2023 offers. Now for the elephant in the room, how many of you have already broken one of your New Year's Resolutions? If so, you’re not alone. Only about 8-12 percent of people actually keep their resolutions.

This week’s tip: stop making resolutions that don’t work. You need a more effective alternative.

While you may stick to them at first, New Year’s Resolutions are usually one-offs. Frequently, they’re not very realistic. This makes it harder to follow through consistently even in the short term, let alone for the entire year.

Of course, resolutions themselves aren’t the problem. Whether you set out to achieve personal milestones or professional goals at your firm, setting a resolution shows resolve and determination to grow, change and evolve.

What you need is a reliable goal-achieving system that works.

Your action item this week is to set S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals for the New Year. That means goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time-bound, Exciting, and Relevant. Let’s take a closer look at these 7 attributes.

  •  Specific: When goals are too vague, they don’t inspire. It’s harder to focus on them. Ask yourself specific questions and identify exactly what you want to accomplish.
  •  Measurable: This is important for two reasons. First, without some sort of measurement, how can you tell whether you’ve accomplished your goal? Second, keeping your goals measurable helps you to track your progress.
  •  Actionable: Get clear on the primary action and frame your goal around a strong action verb. For example, “Be more health-conscious about my diet” is not nearly as strong and actionable as “Eat 2 pieces of fruit every day.” Do you see the difference?
  •  Risky: You need to set some pretty aggressive and ambitious goals if you’re going to get there. Goals that aren’t challenging simply aren’t inspiring and exciting, so people are less motivated to work on them.
  •  Time-bound: Your goals should include one or more of five different time signatures; a deadline, a cadence or frequency, a start date, a time trigger, or a streak target. When your goals are time-bound, you’re more likely to stick to them.
  •  Exciting: You will work harder to achieve a goal that excites and inspires you, right? You’ll be more motivated and focused, improving your chances of reaching the goal.
  •  Relevant: To be effective as a goal, what you’re looking to achieve has to be relevant to your life, core values, interests, and actual circumstances. You’ll be much more motivated to pursue a path that means something, and seems most likely to get you where you’re trying to go, even IF that path is full of challenges and setbacks.

SMARTER goals will give you a clearer idea of what you want to accomplish. You’ll feel more driven and you’ll be much more likely to follow through with your goals. Put simply, you’ll achieve what you set out to do and deliver greater value for yourself and your firm.

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