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Andrea Holyfield Jun 4, 2012

Goals vs Resolutions

Instead of resolutions I encourage clients to establish goals. While resolutions are blanket statements delivered to the universe with no plan of action, no reference and no structure of measurement, SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. Let's examine each component.

A specific goal answers the who, what, when why questions. For example your summer resolution might be to start your own business, but your SMART goal will assist you in the planning of this project by answering the following questions:
What business will I start?
Where will my business operate?
Who will be my partners? Who will I need to work with?
Why is this business important to me?
When will I start?

A measureable goal is one that has milestones. Instead of setting the resolution of getting into a bikini for that July 25 cruise, a SMART goal might be to lose two pounds per week for the next eight weeks. This way each week you are charting your loss and you can see what works for you and adjust if you find a certain workout or nutrition plan isn't doing what you expected. Also a measureable goal leaves less room for surprise at the end!

An attainable goal is a large goal that is broken down into smaller, easier to accomplish parts. Take the weight loss goal for example. By breaking down the frightfully intimidating goal of losing a bunch of weight into smaller parts, you get to celebrate and encourage yourself along the way. Are your summer goals attainable?

When first introduced to the SMART goal system I fought the realistic part. I thought who am I as a coach to tell someone that their goal is or isn't realistic, but working with clients every day has shown me why this is important. I believe that where there is a will there is a way, but I also believe that personal and physical factors can influence our ability to overcome certain challenges. I would never tell someone that they can't accomplish a goal, but we may need to determine whether or not you need additional time or resources to proceed.

Finally your goal should be time-bound. You should define start, end and check in points on the road to achieving your goal. If, for example, your goal is to write a book, you might want a date for your chapter outline, dates that each chapter will be completed, a date that the draft will go to your editor, etc. Making your goals time bound encourages constant effort. Trust me it works!

When done right career counseling is personal counseling. Your professional goals can lead to personal happiness.

Andrea Holyfield is a counselor specializing in career counseling and womens' empowerment. For more information go to

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