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Why you shouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution

ResolutionsEach year, millions of Americans lose an average of 20 pounds and learn a new language within a few months of making their New Year’s resolutions.

Wait, what? That’s not actually true. I can tell you what really happens: Every January 2, a slew of people show up at my gym and hog the treadmills. It is rather frustrating. Luckily, I know they’ll be gone in a few weeks. That’s because they are part of the 80% of Americans who abandon their resolutions by the second week of February.

There has to be a better way. What if instead, we set goals throughout the year, rather than all at once when the clock strikes midnight? We would be less likely to feel overwhelmed by our commitment to training for a marathon and writing a novel, so we’d have a better chance of getting something done. After doing some research, I found a few other tips to achieve those goals you set.

Be specific. Begin by writing down exactly what you want. We’d all like to be more successful or more fulfilled, but what exactly does that mean to you? Let’s say you’d like to raise your professional visibility. There are a number of ways you can do it, including getting further training that can make you more valuable to clients or your employers or becoming more involved in professional or community organizations. And remember this isn’t a once-a-year activity, since it’s good to set new goals as circumstances change and new opportunities pop up.

  

Get even more specific. Once you narrow down your goal, drill down some more. If you wrote down that you want to raise your professional visibility, find out what’s available to you, when classes or activities take place and what you need to do to get involved. It’s easy to put off or forget about a goal such as “taking a class,” but once you find a class that fits your schedule and will truly add something to your professional or personal life, you’re more likely to follow through.

Consider timing. New Year’s resolutions are particularly challenging for CPAs in public practice, because no matter how motivated you are about a fresh start, you’re still looking straight ahead at busy season, with little time for extracurricular activities. Instead of trying to do it all at once, get out your calendar and make a reasonable schedule for following through on various objectives over the course of the year. Prioritize your goals to make sure you focus on what’s most important and that you make the best use of your time. 

Commit. That includes resisting the temptation to give up when getting there takes longer than you expected, or turns out to be much more complicated than you had hoped. Talking about your goals can help, since other people can cheer you on and help motivate you to get through when the going gets tough.

Use these tips and tools whenever you want to reach an important goal, even if it’s in August! When it comes to goal setting for CPAs and CPA firms, there are some great resources available, including the PCPS SMART Goal Planning Grid and Goal Category Checklists. Small firms can also find a wealth of tools that can help them achieve their objectives on the AICPA small firm resources site.

Shelly Guzzetta, Manager- Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Resolutions courtesy of Shutterstock

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