Forget Resolutions – Make SMART Goals for the New Year

By Niki Taylor
Dad working with daughter on laptop

As the New Year approaches, many people start making resolutions to change something about their lives. But, by February, nearly 80% of people will fail to keep their resolutions, with 8% failing within the first week of January. As we head into the new year and begin thinking about goals, plans and ideas for a happy and healthy 2024, instead of making resolutions, sit with your family, school team and PTA to develop SMART goals.

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. When goals meet the SMART criteria, they are more likely to be achieved. Making SMART goals takes some time to really think through what you want to accomplish and the best path to get you there.

For school communities, goals can focus on finding ways to be better parents, educators, community members and PTA leaders. Goals to consider include:

  • How can we inspire our students?
  • How can we better support our teachers?
  • How can we help parents stay connected with the school?
  • How can we improve our classroom and school?
  • What should our team accomplish this year?
  • How can we get more parents and teachers involved in PTA?
  • How can we as parents, educators and leaders make an impact on students’ health and well-being this year?

To make SMART goals, it’s important to work through the process to determine what is really needed and what is realistic. Here are a few tips to help you make SMART goals for the new year.

Don’t Overthink It

Often it is the little things that can make the most impact. Think about what would make the day-to-day lives of teachers a bit easier. For example, in one school, the PTA held a drive to collet pencils. They used the donations plus additional funds to supply each classroom with boxes of sharpened pencils for the entire school year, which made a big impact on teachers and supported students. There was always a pencil available when needed.

When considering things you would like to accomplish in the new year, analysis paralysis can be a problem, so use the K.I.S.S. method – keep it super simple! Small things can make a big impact.

Write it Down

Writing something down makes it real and helps you stay accountable. According to a study by Forbes, people who describe their goals by writing them down are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish them. Also, assign dates to specific milestones for your goal and put it on the calendar with reminders and actions to achieve leading up to each date. Seeing something in writing will help you stay on track.

If you are helping your child make goals, let them get creative when writing their goals. Brea out the crayons and glitter pens to encourage them to write things down. Get them a calendar where they can write their goal milestones down, and keep it in a place where they see it.

Be Realistic

Resolutions often fail because they aren’t realistic, making them doomed from the start. When making SMART goals, think about what you can actually achieve. What little adjustments can you make that have an impact? If you want your child to read more, set a goal to read five pages a day before bed instead of reading 25 pages. If you make realistic goals, you are more likely to achieve them.

Too Many is Too Much

We often try to make grand plans for the new year because it feels like a time to make lots of changes. This is where failure tends to creep in. Change is hard and life is busy. If there are too many goals to achieve, you may not accomplish any of them. Think small. Pick one or two goals that are really important to you and your school community, then focus your time and energy on those.

Give Yourself Grace

Life is hard! Sometimes things just happen that get in the way of what we are setting out do to, and that is okay. It’s important to give yourself grace if you weren’t able to achieve everything on your list.

But, giving yourself grace doesn’t mean you give up. Just take a step back to work through the challenges you are facing, then pick up where you left off when the time is right. It’s easy to get off-track, but it’s really important to find your way back in order to achieve the goals you set for yourself and your school community.

Things to do for your Kids in the New Year

As we look ahead to 2024, there are things you can do to help your child build resilience. Check out this article for the five best things you can do for your kids in the new year.

Niki Taylor is a communications consultant with Niki Taylor PR.

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