Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Mean a Thing

I don’t care about your New Year’s resolution.

Every time the calendar flips over to a new year, people make lofty goals on how they are going to work out more, read more and talk to friends more.

Typically, they are fairly self-centered goals, and that’s perfectly fine. Many nonprofits also make resolutions, which is great, but I just don’t care what your resolution is.

What I do care about is you achieving your resolution, especially as it relates to your nonprofit and making the world a better place. These resolutions are important in the nonprofit world, so take the time of this fresh start to consider where you want to be in a year from now. Before you go to social media and declare your intentions for 2015, let’s review how to make your resolution happen this year.

Set SMART Goals

It all starts with setting SMART goals, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound.

What does that look like though? A few years ago I set a resolution that I would run at least two miles on 100 days during the year. That goal contains a task that is specific (running at least two miles) measurable (100 days), achievable (I like to run to stay fit), results-oriented (it would have upped my previous running level) and time-bound (done by the end of the year).

I know that you don’t care about my resolution either, but it at least provides an outline of a goal that will help you carve out a better resolution.

When you are setting goals for your organization, don’t slide by with something vague like, “Be better at social media!” Make sure you follow the guidelines and make your resolution SMART.

Plan, Plan, Plan

If you are going to commit to something for the new year, plan out how it’s going to work. Hopefully, you’ve already thought about what you want to do. You need to sit down and figure out how you are going to achieve that goal. If it is a good resolution, it won’t be something you can tackle one day and cross off the list.

Returning to the above example—because I live in cold Nebraska and do not care for running outdoors in the winter, January was tough. I fell behind the pace of 8.3 runs per month, but I knew that warmer days were ahead and continued to push forward. When November hit, I knew that the opportunities were dwindling and I had to step up my game to make sure that I hit 100 before the year was complete.

We’ve got plenty of tools to help you here at Nonprofit Hub. If you want to be better at marketing, look at our Six Steps to Planning Your Year-Long Marketing Plan. Or if you want to focus on social media, Steven Shattuck wrote the Ultimate Social Media Scheduling Guide. And don’t forget about getting better at fundraising.

Hold Yourself/Others Accountable

Goals and resolutions are all about the follow-through. The key to this step is holding yourself and others accountable to make these resolutions happen.

In running, I could only hold myself accountable to get outside and run, but I enlisted the help of others by posting my resolution and updates on social media. While some friends might have viewed this as obnoxious, it let others know about it and they would ask me how I was progressing with my target.

The key for your nonprofit is to find out what motives yourself and other employees. Is it the sense of pride? Accomplishment? Prizes? Tangible items? Trips? Extra vacation? A pat on the back? If you learn what will keep their eyes on the prize you can close in on that resolution. If you need a little help with accountability, you can start by sharing your organization’s New Year’s resolutions below.

Be Flexible

The idea behind New Year’s resolutions is setting something on Jan. 1, and then being able to check it off your list by Dec. 31. Well, let’s break the mold a bit here. If things aren’t going your way, change it up. But only do so if you’ve exhausted every possibility. Flexibility is not meant to be a cop out. You can also change up your resolution to challenge yourself more. If you’ve already conquered your resolution by August, then add another layer to it or up your target.

Again, I don’t care what your resolutions are, it only matters whether you accomplish them. Don’t let your resolutions go unresolved. Start simple with solid goals, make a plan and be accountable. Then you can really party next New Year’s Eve.


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

January 5, 2015

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