Write It In Pen: Set Out Your Goals for a Successful 2019

by Nick Gertsema

My dad’s birthday is January 9, just as the new year starts. Growing up, he’d always ask me and my siblings for the same thing: to write down our goals for the year. It would’ve been easier to get him a pair of socks or a goofy tie. 

If you’ve never sat down to do some goal-setting for the new year, you may think that it’s easy. But when you sit there with a pen and a very blank sheet of paper, you’ll find it’s more of a struggle than you’d think.

My dad’s rules for writing goals were simple.  The goals had to be written. We couldn’t just tell him what we were going to do. The goals also had to be written in pen. Something happens subconsciously when you write something in pen – you know it’s permanent and can’t be changed. They also had to be good goals. We weren’t allowed to set the bar low to make sure we jumped it easily.

Finally, and most importantly, the goals had to be what my father called “SMAC Goals”: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Compatible.

SMAC Certified Goals

S – Specific.  Be specific about what you’re planning to do. Make sure you’re very clear about the process and desired outcome of your goal. Write down what you’re planning on doing and the steps you’ll take to get there.

M – Measurable. Your goal must be measurable in a quantitative way, and this means attaching a number to it. It’s not good enough to just say that you will exercise more, you have to commit to a certain number of times at the gym per week. You can’t say that you want to spend more time traveling, you have to set a specific number of trips you want to take and what criteria those trips have to hit to count towards your goal.

A – Achievable. This is the trickiest one. The goals have to be set with a 50% chance of success. The idea is to push yourself to achieve more, but not set the goals so unrealistically high that you wouldn’t even try to hit them.

C – Compatible. Your goals need to be compatible with who you are, your values and the kind of person you’d like to grow into.

Not Easy – But Worth It

I can’t honestly say I got the goals written every year. My sister was always better at that than I was. What I did learn was that some goals I thought were pushing myself too far I accomplished with time to spare. I was always amazed when I looked at my goals from the previous year that I might have completely forgotten about, yet achieved.

In the past year, I’ve experienced quite a few changes which make it hard to think about goal-setting for the new year. In my home life, my family has moved to a house in the country we’ll be adding another member in May or June. At work, we’ve set up an independent office and have new partners that are helping to push us and giving us the resources to be better at what we love to do. Quite frankly, I found it easier to write a blog about setting goals than to sit down and write out my goals.

Put it Down in Pen

My challenge to you is this: look at where you were a year ago compared to today. How much has changed? Are you where you thought you’d be? If you think about January 2020, where do you want to be? How do you want to spend your 2019?

Sit down, relax, have an adult beverage if it helps, and take an honest look at goal-setting for the new year. Then think about the steps you have to take to get there. Make sure it’s SMAC certified.

Finally, write those goals down. In pen.

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