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A Dad's Guide to New Years Resolutions

Building Goals on a Strong Foundation


The end of the calendar year is often a time of reflection about our lives and our performance as fathers and as individuals. It seems also a natural time to make some new commitments about doing better in the coming year than we did in the past. Hence the long tradition of "New Years Resolutions."

But there is also a long standing tradition of making and breaking these resolutions. What can you do to make a New Years Resolution stick all through the year? The answer is setting the resolution effectively in the first place.

"I hope to spend more time with my wife and family" or "Our family will have at least two family vacations of at least four days each this year."

Which goal works better and why?

Goals can be defined as a written target of where an individual wants to be within a specific time frame. But goals must be built on a secure foundation in order to be meaningful and to help a father achieve his mission.

Hyrum Smith, founder of Franklin Quest, later Franklin-Covey, Inc. developed a model of goal setting which is instructive. Smith's "Success Triangle" puts governing values at the base of the goal setting process. Smith recommends that every goal be linked specifically to a governing value. For example, if physical health is a value espoused by a dad, then there must be at least one goal which improves the father's health. Every goal should be linked to a governing value.

Do Your Goals Measure Up?

Effective goals have four common characteristics which, when followed, will make achievement more likely and planning more precise. These characteristics are

1. The goal must be specific.The more specific the goal is, the more likely the organization is to achieve it. Using the two goal statements above as examples, you can see that the first goal is very general. Spending one more minute this year with your wife and each of your children would be achieving the goal. Is that really what you want? The second goal is more specific and therefore more linked to the overall mission.

2. The goal must be measurable.There must be a way to determine whether or not you are making progress toward the goal, and there needs to be a way to clearly define the moment when the goal is achieved. Again, using the two goal statements above, the first is clearly not as measurable as the second. Spending "more" time is hard to measure. How do you know for sure if it was "more" time than last year or not? But by setting a goal like the second one, it is easy to know if you have achieved the goal or not--you either got away for at least four days twice during the year or you didn't.

3. The goal must be targeted.Will the goal lead to the desired outcomes? Does the goal contribute meaningfully to your mision as a dad? Does the goal get you closer to or take you farther from your intended outcome? In the case of the two resolutions above, both may get you closer to your outcome, but the second is certainly more focused.

4. The goal must be time specific.Tying a goal to a deadline is critical. It allows the objectives which flow from the goal to address both direction and speed. Goal achievement is usually based on a specific time frame, and accountability for achieving the goal is significantly enhanced when it is linked to a deadline. Our second sample goal above is time specific (four days, twice during the year); the first one is not.

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