Goals vs. Resolutions

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Hitting your target isn’t all that matters.

Goal-setting pervades SAP consulting. Many individuals set career goals for themselves, team leaders set targets for their teams, and managers set project-wide goals. Management consultants adore goals. In particular they love applying the SMART  criteria for goals:  Is the goal, S: Specific, M: Measurable, A: Attainable, R: Relevant, T: Timely?

But what happens when we achieve a SMART goal? Do we simply move onto the next? Can achieving one goal help us achieve another? I think so, when you frame it not as a goal but as a resolution.

I recently finished “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin in which she describes the difference between goals and resolutions, “You hit a goal, you keep a resolution” (288). And I think for SAP consultants the resolution, the how you accomplish a goal, is more important both in the short and long terms.

Consider some common goals on SAP projects, i.e. finish integration testing by the end of the month, finish knowledge transfer (KT) activities by the end of the quarter, or gather requirements for xyz from the business stakeholders by Friday. What’s missing from these goals is the how — the resolution. Sure you can finish your testing, KT, or requirements gathering according to a timetable, but will the product be any good?

Don’t get me wrong, I think goals can be helpful. I just don’t think they can stand alone.  You need to set in place some resolutions too. Resolutions might include: maintain open lines of communication with the business stakeholders through weekly meetings, document and upload all testing scenarios and results as I complete them, before clicking “send” on an email, always ask yourself, “Is there anyone else that should know about this?” and cc them.

From a project standpoint, resolutions can be great, but they also have tremendous power on an individual level. Maybe you want to set a resolution to leave work at 5:30 pm like Sheryl Sandberg, not answer work emails from home, to get to the office at 7:00 am, maintain a better filing system for your email. If you frame these as resolutions instead of goals, you will never accomplish them.  Instead you will keep getting better, and they will eventually help you achieve whatever goal your manager wants to throw at you this week.

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