Plan SMART for Success This Year

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‘Tis a whole new year for opportunity, innovation, and new habits to improve health, business, relationships or whatever else comes to mind.  Sure, big talk, and it’s talk we hear a lot at this time of the year.  Unfortunately, most of us will fall flat in getting many of our goals accomplished.  Why is this and what can be done to remedy the situation?


There are so many things we want to do, so many goals, so many possibilities.  It’s like we walked into the greatest food-by-the-pound cafeteria on the planet.  There are so many choices.  We fill our plates with a little of everything, and, when it comes to actually eating, we cannot finish even half of it.  Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs as the saying goes.

This is exactly what so many of us do, we set goals for exercise, diet, our job and relationships and then with the best intentions to get it all done.  Then what happens?  We are overwhelmed, even though we thought compartmentalizing things into discreet parts of our lives would make it manageable, no go.  What gives?

Well, the human brain, as it turns out, is not so good at doing more than one thing at a time.  It deals with a trickle from the garden hose better than a blast from a fire hose.  The facts suggest that so-called multi-tasking is really just switching quickly between doing several “one things” at a time.  Our brains are simply not built for consciously doing more than one thing at a time well.  At best, we do several things with mediocrity.  Think about your success at eating, driving and talking on the phone for example. You probably made a mess, had to swerve, and held a largely rambling jumble of a conversation.

Lesson: Find one or two things you want to accomplish and really set your sights on them instead of the fifty-odd you initially had in mind.


I am a big believer in setting goals with plans that are clear and give you definition as to WHAT you’re trying to do, HOW you’ll do it, WHO you’ll need to include and involve, and WHEN things need to happen. A simple format for this is the tried and true SMART acronym.

I have a somewhat different take on SMART though that I’ve developed to fill in the What, How, Who, When blanks.  This take changes some of the acronym components and defines them as follows: Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Responsible, and Timely.  You can use these components as frames for questions that, when answered, clarify your goal and give you a complete plan.

  • Specific: What is it you specifically want to accomplish?
  • Measureable: What is the measure of success?  How will you know progress is being made and that you’ve reached the finish line?
  • Actionable: What needs to happen?  What are the steps?  What actions are required?
  • Responsible: Who will you need to include to be successful?  What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • Timely: What’s the timeline for everything that needs to be done and when do you plan on completing it?

Lesson:  Creating SMART plans to direct the action gives you much more likelihood of accomplishment because you know exactly what needs to happen and exactly what success should look like.

Get this year started off right.  Rather than 10 things done halfway or not at all, get two things done well and feel good about it.


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