Workplace Rights

Weekly (1/2/13)

Topic of the Week  New Year's Resolutions

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

New Year's Resolutions at Work: Increasing Your Odds of Success

According to a study from the University of Bristol, 88% of New Year's Resolutions result in failure. Almost nine out of ten. Despite the fact that more than half of the resolvers felt confident that they would be successful when they first made the resolution. So should we just avoid making resolutions? Absolutely not, especially when there are specific strategies that can allow everyone to dramatically increase their odds of success. Which reminds me of an article that I read about a threat to our safety that exists in many parks across the U.S., movable soccer goals. Really. Untethered goals have fallen on people and resulted in 38 deaths and over 100 injuries in the past thirty years. Who knew?

In addition to all those people crushed by untethered goals in parks are another kind of untethered goal, when we make goals or resolutions that are impossible for us to achieve. That's why I'm such a big fan of this time of year, because all of us have the chance to focus on accomplishing something we've always wanted to do, and hopefully the motivation to actually make it happen. But only if you are smart about how you approach your goals. I do mean S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Specific. Goals must be clear and unambiguous. Start by answering the 5 "W's," what, why, who, which, where. Instead of having a goal of being more productive, establish specific targets for increasing your sales or productivity. The more specific you are the higher the odds that you'll achieve your goals.

Measurable. If you can't measure it, how will you know if you achieved your goal? You won't. That's why it's important to establish specific metrics for what you want to accomplish. For example, increasing sales by 10% or producing 3 more completed reports each week. Establish specific targets and then chart your progress toward achieving them.

Attainable. I'm all for stretching yourself with your New Year's Resolution. There is only one problem, if you make your goal unattainable, it is much easier to throw up your hands and give up. So establish your goals very carefully, the key is to create targets that are challenging, but achievable.

Relevant. We can focus on many different accomplishments with our resolutions, just be careful to put your efforts into the ones that will have the most positive impact. Goals that aren't relevant are not only a waste of time, but they can damage your credibility in a turbulent and overwhelmed workplace.

Time-bound. A deadline helps to create focus and a sense of urgency. So create targets for when you'll accomplish your goals. There is nothing like a little time pressure to get you inspired enough to tackle those goals of yours.

Be S.M.A.R.T. and your goals for the new year won't end up crushing you or your dreams. In fact, they'll help you to be in that exclusive club of the 12% that accomplish their New Year's Resolutions.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"Aim higher in case you fall short."

–Suzanne Collins

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Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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    Men & Women & Goals

    • Men achieved 22% more when they established goals for themselves
    • Women were 10% more successful when they made their goals public and got support from friends and colleagues


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