Thursday, December 31, 2009

New (or Last) Year's Resolutions...Realistic Goal Setting

New Year's always makes me reflect on what I could do both the same and differently for the upcoming year. Fortunately for me, I make some of the same forecasts in October when my birthday hits. This actually allows me a couple of months to see the realities of my goals and, essentially re-forecast for a more realistic achievement of these goals when the next year hits.

For 2010, I have the following goals & resolutions:

Family and Friends:
- Spend more time with my family & friends (although they may have resolutions to spend less time with me)

Health & Wellness:
- Train for a personal record (PR) time when I run the Boston Marathon in April
- Compete in my first triathlon by the Fall

Professional and Financial:
- Understand the impact of healthcare reform for St. Joseph Medical Center and our surrounding community
- Participate in more community events
- Work towards financial independence (after meeting with a financial advisor, I understand that I am just 45 short years away from achieving this goal)

This past year, St. Joseph Medical Center has performed well around our goals. Some of our resolutions include:

1. Improving our patient satisfaction scores to the top quartile
2. Bringing on additional physicians to further our growth efforts
3. Furthering our employee engagement and serving as an employer of choice

I was reading some information on New Years Resolutions and wanted to share it with you (Source:

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” ~ Author Unknown

At the beginning of each new year, people begin thinking about making and keeping a new year’s resolution, only to discover within a short period of time that their good intentions fall by the wayside each and every year, “in one year and out the other”.

The top new year’s resolutions rarely change from one year to the next, and in case you haven’t noticed yet, new year’s resolution statistics are not on your side. Unrealistic resolutions are doomed to fail from the start, usually due to lack of motivation, not being specific enough, being too ambitious with a list of new years resolutions that are bad for your health, bringing on stress, anxiety, hopelessness and even depression.

Top New Years Resolutions:

-Lose weight
-Manage debt/save money
-Get a better job
-Spend more time with family
-Quit smoking
-Eat right/Get fit
-Get a better education
-Reduce stress
-Going greener
-Volunteer to help others

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.” ~ Author Unknown
Goal Setting
Forget about new years resolutions and start focusing on goal setting. What is goal setting? Goals setting is a process that allows people to specify then work towards their own objectives, commonly referred to as life goals.

Whether it be personal goal setting or business goal setting, the importance of setting goals that are challenging, tangible, specific, realistic and have a time targeted completion date cannot be overemphasized.

Some people don’t know how to set goals or achieve a goal already set, so when they decide on setting a goal of one kind or another, each goal is quickly given up on until new years resolution conversations begin all over again.

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” ~ Mark Twain

How to Set Goals
What are your goals to set? Are they short term goals, long term goals, or both? Are they personal goals, career goals or vague life goals? Effective goals are very specific and measurable, involving goal setting motivation, while very vague goals such as “I want to lose weight” or, “I want to be the best person I can be” are not specific enough to help you in achieving goals in the short term or long term.

Goals give us direction, telling us what needs to be accomplished. Both long and short-term goals provide direction, but short-term goals appear to have the greatest motivational effects for change.

Finding your motivation through goal setting involves understanding why you want or need x,y,z in your life and what the goal means to you personally or professionally, thereby giving you the needed power and motivation to accomplish your goals once and for all.

S.M.A.R.T Goals
Writing goals down and tracking goals with goal setting is advocated by many experts in the field of goal setting, being very specific with each and every goal you plan to accomplish. “Smart goals” stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound, which helps people learn how to write a top quality goal they can and will stick to.

Specific – your goal should answer the What, Where, Why and How questions, written as simply and clearly as possible. Use action words to explain WHAT are you going to do? WHY is this goal important? HOW are you going to do it, etc?

Measurable – If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Choose a goal with measurable progress so you can actually see the changes you are making, otherwise how will you know when you have reached your goal?

Attainable – an attainable, agreed upon, achievable goal involves realistic goals that consider your current situation, financial and personal resources, as well as time available to achieve success. Set your goal to challenge and “stretch” you slightly, but don’t go too far out of your reach setting unattainable goals, otherwise you’ll become discouraged and give up, again.

Realistic – a realistic goal is a goal you can control and achieve, requiring effort on your part, a positive mindset, positive action, determination and consistency that will enable you to achieve and accomplish goals you set. Each time you achieve a goal, enjoy the satisfaction that goes with goal achievement, rewarding yourself appropriately.

Time-bound – a time-bound goal includes realistic time-frames, using dates and times as measurement towards successful completion of each goal. Setting a time frame for goals set gives you a clear and precise target to work towards. Without a set time limit, your commitment is too vague, open-ended, lacking a sense of urgency to take action now to accomplish goals.

If you are one of many who jump on the new years resolution bandwagon, make a New Year’s resolution to NOT make new year’s resolutions ever again. Instead, set goals that are not only reasonable and realistic, but measurable and attainable so that your current goals and any new goals can be accomplished once and for all.

Happy New Year everyone. I look forward to hearing about your resolutions and goals for 2010.

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