SMART Goals: Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Kristen Talbert

Indigenous Leadership Academy Program Manager

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For as long as I can remember, my sister and I would each have one New Year's resolution that we would tell each other and then we would promise to hold one another accountable. You can guess what happened next, we neither kept our resolutions nor held each other accountable. It was a good idea but with no action behind it, the resolution fizzled out quickly. If we would have known how to use SMART goals, maybe our success rate would have been higher. SMART goals are one tool that every leadership toolkit should have. 

What are SMART goals? It's an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. These elements will help you to get specific about what it is you want to achieve and how and within what time frame you are going to achieve your goal. I find having a larger overarching goal and breaking that down into small, manageable steps is the best way to utilize SMART goals. I’ve provided helpful resources below to help you learn more about how to create SMART goals below. 

SMART goals are a great project management tool. There are some things  to avoid to ensure the success of your goals. Please make sure that your goals aren’t too broad, and conversely, the goals shouldn’t be so specific that if one item is off it throws the entire goal off. To this, make sure the goal is relevant to the larger goal you want to accomplish. Give a realistic time frame of when each task will be completed. 

I find having a visualization of what my goals look like is very helpful. I do this a few different ways. I utilize Trello (info below) as a means to put down my vision and from there I create SMART goals for what I want to accomplish. I love the “label” tool and the “add-ons” option to help me see where my progress is. I create Trello boards for the Indigenous Leadership Academy. I envision where I want to see it go long term and from there what are my goals for growth in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years. When I get an idea that is good but not for now, I put it in one on these boards. A Trello board is an excellent way to track your progress. I sometimes create an excel spread sheet or a google sheet to track my SMART goals and hold myself accountable. The simplest way I visualize my progress is by writing down a to-do list on my whiteboard or in a google doc and check them off as I accomplish them. 

You may find that you accomplish your SMART goals more quickly than you planned. If that’s the case, create new SMART goals and dream bigger! With thoughtful planning there is no reason you can’t achieve any of the goals you set for yourself this year. Have a safe and Happy New Year.

Henana, pidamaya ye (that is all, thank you). Kristen 

Helpful Resources: