The sound of “Happy New Year” rings a bit longer for those in academia. Once the spring semester begins, faculty/staff return to work and students to classes, the New Year seems well underway. And, in New Orleans once Christmas decorations are packed, it’s time for Twelfth Night and the beginning of Carnival leading to Mardi Gras. I can’t help but think about the resolutions made December 31 and January 1. The number one resolution folks make nationally includes losing weight and exercise; by the time the Phunny Phorty Phellows ride the street car down St. Charles Avenue, those resolutions have included a healthy slice of king cake and an adult beverage.
What is the difference between making resolutions and setting goals? According to several dictionary sources, a resolution has more to do with the desire to act and a goal is a declaration that something will happen; there is an element of active engagement. Studies show that folks who make resolutions fail primarily because they make too many, the resolutions are too broad in scope, and frankly people get bored and forget what they were so resolute about on January 1. So perhaps in this New Year we make goals that are attainable instead of resolutions that fade as quickly as a new desire appears.
New Year’s goals could follow the old, tried and true S.M.A.R.T process; ok, go ahead and squelch that yawn! If you’ve taken an elementary business class, you have heard all of this before, BUT now you have an opportunity to put it into real action. New Year’s goals should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Seriously, think how much further ahead you would be by spring break or your high school reunion this summer if you started with something specific. Things like lose weight, study more, exercise, save money and travel are too general. The specificity we are looking for comes in a clearly defined outcome. The goal must be tangible and so the measure of success is real. The goal should also not be slam dunk or too difficult, it should be a slight stretch but achievable and realistic. In setting goals, giving ourselves an appropriate time frame for our accomplishments is essential.
So what are you waiting for? Mardi Gras will soon be here, and on we go to Spring Break, Jazz Fest, Graduation, Summer Fun, Orientation, the start of school, Fall Break, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the holidays and #BAM January 1, 2016. Will we have had the “will” to make the difference that mattered to us today?