-Ward C. Schendel, Business Coach, KnowledgeSphere Group of AdviCoach

It’s December. Time to think about New Year’s Resolutions. The Book of Odds¹ tells us the odds an adult will make a New Year’s Resolution are 1 in 2.56. And it says the likelihood we will keep a New Year’s Resolution for more than one week are 1 in 8.33 and that the odds we will not keep the resolution for a whole year are 1in 1.15.

Is there a way to beat the odds? Let’s start by looking at personal resolutions. You know the ones…lose weight; exercise more; be kinder, gentler, more loving.

What about your business? Do you have resolutions for it, too? Perhaps more revenue, more profit, reduce expenses?

Do you see an underlying pattern with these resolutions? A reason why we often don’t continue to work toward accomplishing them?

None of the goals listed above are Specific enough or able to be Measured in some qualitative way. That makes the likelihood of Attainability slim to none. The resolutions aren’t Realistic. And, there is no Timetable for their accomplishment. That’s right: They aren’t SMART.

So, what does a SMART resolution look like? Let’s examine a personal resolution and a business resolution. First, the personal one. Interested in losing weight? Here is a resolution from a SMART perspective. “I will lose 20 pounds before April 1, 2013.”

• Specific: It tells us exactly what is to be achieved and by when.

• Measurable: It provides a qualitative measure – 20 pounds.

• Attainable: The goal isn’t something outlandish like 150 pounds in 90 days.

• Realistic: This goal is still within your comfort zone. You know you can do it!

• Timely: You have a reasonable deadline and time period in which to accomplish it.

Now, let’s look at a business-related resolution. “Our company, which is on track to generate $450,000 in revenue for 2012, will increase revenue by at least $10,000 during the first quarter of 2013.

• Specific: $10,000 is an exact number set up as a base line.

• Measurable: The revenue amount for the quarter can be determined from the Profit and Loss Statement prepared at the end of the quarter. And, monthly P&L Statements can show the progress during the time period.

• Attainable: $10,000 seems like a reasonable increase in quarterly revenue for a company that has $450,000 annual revenue (approximately 2%). As a business coach, I might push you to establish a revenue goal that is more aggressive. This number, depending on the circumstances, may be too conservative; you might be settling for something less than what you can achieve.

• Realistic: Maybe. There are too many unknowns such as: how long it took the company to reach the $450,000 annual revenue and other factors such as the company’s product, economic cycle, number of employees, resources such as capital, available financing, and leadership. Without more information, it is difficult to say.

• Timely: The deadline is specific and appears to provide a reasonable timeframe in which to reach the goal.

Two final thoughts: (1) Goals have a much greater probability of attainment when we write them down. (2) Goals are much more likely to be met when we phrase them positively, instead of negatively.

Be SMART with your New Year’s Resolutions…find a systematic way to beat the odds!

Have a productive and Happy New Year!

¹ Information from Book of Odds, Copyright © 2012 Book of Odds, Inc., www.bookofodds.com