Photo by Moritz Knöringer

New Year, New Me

Like many people, I make resolutions every January and forget them by February. However, at the beginning of 2020, I took a different approach. I decided I would make serious resolutions. This was a two-fold effort and a process I think can be replicated by anyone.

The first thing to do is to create goals using the SMART goals framework.

I’ll use a goal I set in January — to reach a 365-day streak on Duolingo, the language learning software — to help explain the SMART framework.

Specific. The goal should be focused and nested within a broader purpose. Instead of saying, “I want to learn Spanish,” I said, “I want to use a tool regularly that will help me learn Spanish.”

Measurable. Without measurement, it’s nearly impossible to track your progress or success. “Use Duolingo often” is not measurable. I tied it to a milestone. If I could stick with it for 365 days, I would be satisfied.

Achievable. If your goal is not within reach based on your abilities, time available, etc., it isn’t a good goal. The Duolingo goal I made was actually two-part. It was to obtain a year-long streak and reach Checkpoint 5. When I made the goal, I was halfway through Checkpoint 1. As of Christmas day, I am not even halfway through Checkpoint 3. The second part of this goal was not attainable given the time I had available to commit to Duolingo.

Relevant. Your goal should be relevant to your life, interests, and personal or professional goals. You could set a goal to eat 100 slices of pizza in a day, but how would that tie into your life’s purpose? Unless you receive satisfaction from simply accomplishing goals — any goal — then you should make your goals relevant.

Author’s note: Some people say the R should be realistic, but I think relevant is better. Aren’t achievable and realistic synonyms, after all?

Timed. You need to have a start point and stop point associated with your goal. By giving yourself a deadline, you will spur. Additionally, if you don’t achieve success, you have an endpoint identified to reevaluate why you weren’t successful and adjust accordingly.

The second part of the serious resolution process is to create accountability for yourself. There are several ways to do it, but I decided to post my goals on social media. I’d like to think this strategy enlisted my social media followers to keep me accountable, but it’s highly unlikely they cared.

The truth is that I posted my goals to social media in a vain effort to show everyone how motivated I was, and then I updated them throughout the year to show everyone how disciplined I am.

Accountability to my ego, if you will. Whatever it takes to stay motivated, am I right?

And you bet your ass I’ll be doing it again in 2021.

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The views expressed are those of Brennan Randel and do not reflect the official position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or any government agency.

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