Welcome to 2011! Did you make a New Year’s resolution? I have to be honest — I didn’t. I actually don’t like the New Year’s resolution tradition, and it’s not because I’m opposed to goal-setting. In fact, I’m a firm believer that success comes when you have a set of tangible goals in place —  and I have adhered to that philosophy both personally and professionally all my life. Let’s face it, without having set a personal goal to run a marathon, I never would have just up-and-decided to run 26.2 miles.

Rather, I don’t embrace the New Year’s resolution tradition because I don’t feel goal-setting should be a once a year occurrence. Goals, if set properly, challenge us and push us to grow both personally and professionally. They provide a catalyst for accomplishing feats we might normally deem “unachievable” or “impossible” by breaking them down into manageable steps. And, goals can even push us to conquer the little changes we’ve been avoiding.

But, the other flaw to the News Year’s resolutions, can be the error of any goal — unrealistic expectations. The key to success is setting smaller goals more frequently — never forgetting to challenge ourselves while keeping them achievable and measurable. I certainly would not have embarked on my Marathon goal, having never run before, by jumping right in to a 20 mile run. A series of smaller goals led me to the prize achievement.

Now I do realize that January has almost become a default time for setting goals, not just because of resolutions, but because it’s often the time of year when most workplaces conduct reviews and create plans for the upcoming year. But instead of setting the impossible goal in January only to tuck it away in the drawer until 2012, why not try a new approach and set quarterly or monthly goals? Then, keep focused and measuring your progress throughout the year — bringing you one step closer to that ultimate goal.

Are you a frequent goal-setter or more of a once-a-year, resolution-type? What goals do you have in mind for the upcoming year?

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