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Cheers to a SMART New Year

Cheers to a SMART New Year

American author, Melody Beattie, wrote, “…The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” Unknown to many, setting New Year’s resolutions is not a recent trend or practiced only in Western culture. In fact, the act of setting goals for self-improvement dates back as early as the Babylonian and Roman empires. Unfortunately, while many of our children grow up overhearing parents and other leaders discuss establishing resolutions or possibly joke about failing at them months later, rarely are our children invited into the process or encouraged to set goals for themselves independently. Furthermore, how many of us create family New Year’s resolutions together?

Mid-South Life Coach and ordained Pastor, David Cary, owner of Cary Life Coaching LLC, expressed the following, “…It can be good for families to set New Year’s resolutions together, as the process helps determine, communicate and unite family members on certain lifestyle values… the process promotes family togetherness.” The process also introduces, or for some families reaffirms, the concept of continual improvement/betterment of oneself, which is an important concept for children and adolescents during early developmental stages and directly impacts thought processes as adults. But how exactly do we set New Year’s resolution as a family…?

As a wife and mother with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, I have learned the value of implementing various business principles and techniques within the home. (Yes, sometimes my children are guinea pigs, but isn’t so much of parenting trial and error?). In business schools andprofessional settings, the acronym “SMART” is used to assist leadership teams in setting goals, identifying objectives for attaining those goals, and establishing a timeline/deadline for said goals and objectives. Knowing the difference between a goal and an objective is key. For example, a common New Year’s resolution for many is to simply be healthier. Eating less fast food, exercising more, and increasing daily water intake might be some of the objectives set to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a healthier individual or family. The acronym SMART is used only in helping to clearly define a goal. It is not used in determining the method or actions required for reaching those goals.

Prior to setting a SMART goal, the family must come together and identify areas in need of improvement. With technology being a primary mode of communication today, even among family members, it requires parents to stay aware and observant of technology’s possible positive or negative impacts on the familial relationships and dynamics. Was effective communication a problem in 2016? Does each member of the family feel valued and secure? Is everyone satisfied with how the household is currently functioning (chores, schedules, reward systems, etc.)? This sort of family Q & A session can shed light on areas in need of improvement that parents may not have even realized existed. In the business world, this Q and A session is called a “discovery session” and is part of conducting an “Environmental Analysis,” in which the internal and external environments are assessed. The acronym SWOT (Yes, another acronym) is used during an environmental analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Each area is observed and analyzed accordingly. This tool is important in gathering data for decision-making purposes. And for the purposes of identifying areas needing improvements within our households, it is just as applicable. Once an area of weakness has been identified, defining a SMART goal, or in this case, the family’s New Year’s resolution(s), may begin. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable (Achievable or Action-Oriented), Relevant (Realistic) and Timely (Time-Oriented or Time Bound). After specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals have been clearly defined by your family, the steps or objectives used to reach those goals must be determined. Using this method warrants your greatest chances for long-term success, and if nothing else, increased accountability.

Our resolutions are bound to vary greatly between families and individuals, but what unites us, despite our differences, is that setting New Year’s resolutions as a family brings us together and uses the hope and anticipation of a new revolution around the sun to try to be and do better by one another and ourselves. It’s finally time for us all …to sit down and talk.

Happy New Year, DeSoto County! Cheers!

Summer Plemmons, MBA is a Collierville, TN resident with two daughters and a husband she adores….most of the time. Summer is a Product Developer with Natureplex Pharmaceuticals in Olive Branch, MS.

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