New Year’s resolutions – 5 SMART Goals to Ensure YOU Do Not let this Year go to Waste!

A New Year a New Me? Cliché sentence, ugh….. However, as we leave a crazy year behind us, that turned the world upside down due to COVID-19, it is the right moment and right thing to do to make some goals for 2021. We feel better when we have concrete goals, especially once we achieve them. Most people have NY resolutions. However, these often vaporize within 1 or 2 months. You get back into the regular rhythm of work and private life and the goals vanish. Time flies, so make sure you have S.M.A.R.T. goals. This way, you will stick to them. The process for setting your goals uses the SMART acronym.

The SMART or S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each goal should therefore have these elements. I will list 5 goals below to ensure this year, will become YOUR year.

1.      Start simple, with direct result of your work: Clean your Inbox

Yeah yeah yeah, a boring one you might think. True, but it has the same effect as making your bed in the morning: you start the day, or this New Year resolution process with a feeling of achievement. So we start with this one. It easily meets the SMART acronym elements. Complete this goal in your first week of the New Year. Ambitious? Well you want to move up, get ahead, all the way up to earning six figures don’t you? So I hope this is not too much to ask.

Clean up your work inbox is Specific enough for you I hope. Drag mails you want to keep in a folder, delete what can be deleted, and ensure the only e-mails in your Inbox are e-mails that require action from your side. DO not let this be more than 10 e-mails to keep your overview. Your inbox is not a to-do list. Epic, SMART acronym letter S you can cross off.

Measurable this goal is for sure. The amount of e-mails at the start and the beginning are easy to compare. You start with 100+, 200+? At the end you should have around 10. Boom, SMART acronym letter M for measureable taken down! Need more motivation? Read this.

Like we said, we start with an easy boring goal – so for sure it will be Achievable. Look – let’s be honest. If you cannot achieve this goal, just leave this site and go lay on your couch to watch TV. Put some music on (or the TV in the background if you really must) and just get through those e-mails. Start your year fresh, start your year organized. Start your year with an achievement! The third letter, A for Achievable of the SMART acronym taken care off. Well done!

Is this goal Relevant? Well, I think it is otherwise I would not have listed it. Like I said, it has the same effect as making your bed in the morning: you start the day, or this New Year resolution process with a feeling of achievement. So we start with this one. It easily meets the SMART acronym elements. And with this we meet the letter R in the SMART acronym. High five!

Mr. T. Do you remember Mr. T. from the A-team? Well as strong as he is there, as strong as the letter T of the SMART acronym is here. Saving the best for last you might say. It stands for Time-bound – or timely, or time-limited if you must. Simply said, you need a deadline with your goal. Without your New Year resolution’s goal being time-bound, you will procrastinate and your goals will not be achieved. Do this your first week. Suck it up, deal with it. Move on!

2.      Use your brain a bit: update your CV and LinkedIn

OK, after that physical labor of hitting the delete key or dragging e-mails to folders for goal number 1, you are ready to use your brain a little bit. This task can be tedious. It is not something you can do quickly, but you need to sit down – with some coffee (or rum) and dig up that CV and LinkedIn profile. Classical music, country, hardstyle, punkrock, or gangsta rap – whatever floats your boat amigo. Get yourself ready.

Again, ill set out the goal using the SMART acronym for you:

Specific: get your CV and LinkedIn profile up to date in such a way that it reflects all your positions up to your current one. Ensure that you can jump at an open position within minutes because your CV is ready. Regardless if you are looking for a job or not. You never know right?! Also, it might attract the right connections on LinkedIn to have an up to date profile. These might pay off one day.

Measurable: Is your CV and LinkedIn profile 100% up to date? Is your profile picture accurate? Your personal details and positions are reflected up and until today? Well done!

Achievable: Like I said, sometimes physical labor goals are easier to achieve than the ones for which you need to sit down and think a little bit. However, if you cannot put yourself to do this – then you will not achieve much more in life either. So go for it. You can do it!

Relevant: Yup, basics for a good career and a good year. This letter R in the SMART acronym is easily tackled in this goal. No discussion.

Time-bound: OK, you are too busy with goal number 1, your laundry, your New Year’s Eve hangover? Fine, take the first two weeks for this goal.

3.      Go outside of your comfort zone: Find a mentor

You think you can do it alone? No way, Jose! Everyone needs a mentor. Even if you think you don’t. Some coaching, someone to spar with, someone to help you define your career goals for 2021 specific to your company and industry. Get a mentor! Asking for help is not always easy. It might take you outside of your comfort zone – but this is where the magic happens! Also read more about being comfortable being uncomfortable.

Specific of SMART: Find a mentor within your company that is a couple steps up ahead on the corporate career ladder. Why will this person help you? The same reason I have this blog: we enjoy to help others and to give back. We also had help and mentors along the way. Nobody is “self-made”. Everyone is influenced by leaders, managers, peers, along the way. Finding the right mentor can really set you up for success.

Measureable: Seems like a yes/no, a 0/1 variable, binary baby! The M of the SMART acronym can be easily achieved. Ask a mentor and get a yes! As stated, find someone a couple levels higher than yourself and it does not have to be someone in your department. Sometimes a fresh outside-in look works as well or even better! I would recommend that your mentor knows your department and preferably your colleagues and superiors. This way it is easier for the mentor to put him or herself in your shoes.

Achievable: Well, it is goal number 3 and one that takes some balls. However, this year is your year so go for it. NO you have, YES you can get. You really have nothing to lose by asking someone that you enjoy talking to if you can be your work mentor. Even if you haven’t met your ideal mentor before. Just schedule a 15 minute coffee with the meeting title “15 minute get to know each other coffee”. Not many people decline this. Say you are interested to connect and then during the coffee ask why you want someone to become your mentor. E.g. you have seen this person shine during a presentation, kick-ass during a meeting, or simply because this person is in the department you eventually hope to end up in – or in the leadership position or job level that you want to assume one day. ASK!

Relevant: Would be stupid to list non-relevant goals right? But answer the question if this goal is relevant for you. I believe everyone needs a corporate coach or work mentor to move up and get ahead. Like I said, nobody is self-made! So stop kidding yourself, show some humility, grow a pair, and ask for that mentor!

Time-bound: OK, saving the best of the SMART acronym for last again. The choice of mentor and pulling the trigger to schedule that (virtual) coffee to ask the question, can take time. These are conscious decisions. Give yourself till the end of Q1. Reasonable no? Good luck!

4.      Learn baby learn: acquire a new skill, language or certificate

This goal is for the whole year. Find a skill you see as beneficial for your future you. It can be as easy as following my blog. You will read multiple blogs a week that keep you up to date, that help you get ahead and move up the career ladder. You can also read a career related book. Do an online course? Upgrade your Excel skills (also read: 5-tips-to-get-ahead-in-excel-and-get-green-fingers)? Learn how to speak Portuguese? Or it can be from as complicated as learning a new language to taking that online training offered by LinkedIn to be able to add another certificate to your list. No matter what industry you are in – get that Lean Six Sigma belt or take that Excel or Powerpoint training!

Specific: Tackle the S of the SMART acronym by making you goal specific. For example you are already basic with Excel but you want to ensure that you know 5 tricks to impress your colleagues. Or you set the specific goal of getting your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Life is a Do-It-Yourself project. DIY baby. Or better Do It For Yourself. DIFY.

Measurable: A certain language level (A1, C2, etc) or a concrete certificate, as for example acquiring your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, are concrete outcomes for your goal. Make it measurable. Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

Achievable: Yes, make it an achievable goal. You will not be fluent in Portuguese in 1-year probably if you try to learn this language from scratch – aside from your job, career, family, life, etc. So set your goal then to be able to speak A1 level Portuguese and to be able to order your Caipirinha at the bar in Sao Paulo.

Relevant: Very, like I said, life is a Do It For Yourself project. So acquire skills for future YOU! Preach!

Time-bound: Set a clear deadline, but I typically set these for the end of the year. This, to ensure you take no shortcuts but really acquire a new skill. You can define smaller goals throughout the years, to ensure you do not procrastinate and do it all last-minute. JIT – Just In Time management you should not apply when it comes to your own skills and future amigo.

5.      Visibility: give a presentation or attend a network event

Wow, those are two very different goals?! Yup! However, both will give you visibility. For a lot of people both giving that presentation and meeting new people are not their favorite activities. So I will let you choose one haha! To get ahead, not sucking at your job helps as a start. You also need to know the right people and the right people need to know YOU. Read more about what you need to keep in mind move up the corporate ladder: Want-to-move-up-the-corporate-ladder-keep-these-5-things-in-mind

Specific: Write down the concrete goal of giving a presentation to your company’s Senior Leadership. Or sign up for that (virtual) network event. Specific enough for our SMART acronym? I think so!

Measurable: Binary. You attend or present or you do not. Lean and simple cutie.

Achievable: Very. Not easy, not always nice. But no pain no gain. Go for it!

Relevant: Yes, the only way to get ahead and move up the career ladder. Exposure to senior management, learning how to present a topic or yourself, pitching, are all things you need in your career. The higher you get on that corporate ladder, the more you will need these skills.

Time-bound: Start by setting the goal of achieving either giving that presentation or attending that network event within the first six months. Then do another one in the second-half of the year. Yup, and perhaps you can do even more. Maybe by accident you start to like it actually. Good luck!

AWESOME, those are the 5 goals for this year. Will you manage? Please comment below. Do you have other goals set out for yourself that I or others can learn from? Please let us know!

Good luck, keep moving up!

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