It’s not too late to make a New Year resolution

How being SMART can help drive your New Year success

We know how it is. 31st December comes around and the media is full of ‘helpful’ articles on what we could or should be giving up or doing differently come midnight. We reflect on the year that has passed and decide that yes, next year is going to be our year – we’re going to eat more healthily, drink less alcohol, do more exercise, learn something new.

So, now we’re a week into 2018… how’s the resolution going?

We can all make excuses

If you’re already struggling, chances are you’re not alone. In fact, 80% of people who make New Year resolutions fail to keep them past March.

We understand! Life gets in the way…

The showroom had an unprecedented rush at lunchtime so all the quinoa was gone by the time you made it to the canteen… you made a record number of sales in your first week so the team went out to celebrate after work… you really, really wanted to join in with the 5-a-side team at the weekend, but your kids were desperate for you to build the Lego set they got for Christmas… you meant to enrol at your local college, but you can’t make the Tuesday afternoon class.

We can all make excuses, but if you truly want 2018 to be the year you smash your goal, here’s how to do it:


Anyone who has ever taken a business class will be familiar with the acronym SMART. Basically, it stands for S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Achievable, R – Relevant, and T – Time-bound, and should be the basis for anyone involved in goal planning; whether you’re interested in self-improvement, or developing your team.

You could think this sounds like a bit of a faff – why not just say: “This year I’m going to learn something new”, for example. But what are you going to learn? When are you going to do it? How are you going to do it? Let’s face it, with so much ambiguity, the chances of you actually learning anything are as likely as Brexit being sorted out over a few pints down the pub.

Let’s give SMART the benefit of the doubt, using ‘learning’ as an example:

SPECIFIC – Specify exactly what will be learnt, and what you will be able to do as a result of the training.

Bad goal – I want to be better at my job.

Good goal – I want to learn three new sales techniques each month.

MEASURABLE – You need to be able to demonstrate that you can meet, perform, or satisfy your objective, (particularly if it’s something that your manager is tracking), so build your goal around something that can be observed. This will also be an indicator of whether or not you’re on track for success.

Bad goal – I will read a book on sales negotiation techniques.

Good goal – I will complete a certified online learning module on sales negotiation techniques.

ACHIEVABLE – Let’s face it, completing a sales degree course before your next appraisal probably isn’t going to happen. The more achievable a goal is, the more likely you will be motivated to stick with it, so choose something that is within the realms of possibility. Just be wary of making things too easy, you don’t want to risk giving up through boredom.

Bad goal – I will learn everything there is to know about car sales by next Monday.

Good goal – I will undertake a regular, structured program of learning that covers key car sales techniques over a 3-month period.

REALISTIC – Be sure to consider the practicalities of your goal before committing. For example, are you realistically going to be able to give up a night a week to go to evening classes, or would a 10 minute bite-sized chunk a day be more feasible?

Bad goal – I’m going to take a day off a week to go to college.

Good goal – I’m going to sign-up for an online course that delivers practical training in daily, bite-sized chunks.

TIMEBOUND – Is the learning relevant to your life now? You’re more likely to commit to something if you can see a short-term benefit.

It’s also good to give yourself a time-frame for completion of the training. One of the issues with New Year resolutions is that they are generally based on an infinite timeframe, for example, ‘I will walk to work every day’, which isn’t always practicable over the long-term. What happens if you change jobs and suddenly need to commute?

Time-limited goals are more realistic – which could explain the popularity of ‘Dry January’ – and chances are, once you’ve got into the habit of doing or not doing something, you might continue it beyond your deadline anyway.

Bad goal – I’m going to plan my daily schedule for my retirement.

Good goal – I’m going to complete a sales training module based on techniques that can be put into practice immediately.

So, if you’re keen to indulge in some self-improvement this year; whether it’s getting healthy, or learning a new skill, remember to be SMART! Good luck.

P.S. We’ve included a printable SMART template below to get you started!

Be SMART Template

About Symco Training:

Symco Training Limited is a hands-on training organisation for the motor industry, offering IMI-accredited ‘real-world’ sales training programs based on techniques that have been tried and tested by major dealerships. For further information visit