Setting Goals for a Great New Year

3 min read
in Blog, Organization
setting goals for a great new year

With the new year comes the annual onslaught of resolutions and goals, both personal and professional. It seems that everyone is taking stock of their life and thinking of ways to improve some aspect of it in the coming weeks, months, or even the entire year. Perhaps you have already thought of something you would like to focus on, but where do you start? And how will you continue making strides when the newness of 2019 wears off?

Being the consummate planner, organizer, and project manager, I would like to share with you what I believe to be a simple, yet effective, framework for planning, and hopefully achieving, a goal: The GROW Model with SMART goals. Both words, as you might guess, are acronyms. GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Obstacles (which lead to Options), and Way Forward, and SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

One great advantage of this method is that it can be used for both personal and professional goals. So, whether you want to quit smoking, lose a few pounds, start a business, or increase product sales, this framework can help you establish a game plan for achieving your goal.

Let’s use increase product sales as an example for applying the GROW Model.


Increasing product sales is a broad and somewhat general goal. If we want to establish a plan for achieving that goal we need to re-frame it. The SMART Method is a good way of drilling down to the details and making such a broad goal more manageable. Here is an example:

SPECIFIC – Increase the annual sales of Widget A (your most profitable product) by 5%.

MEASURABLE – Track and record the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly sales of Widget A this year.

ATTAINABLE – Analyze the past sales performance of Widget A (last month, last quarter, last year, last two to five years) to determine whether a 5% growth in annual sales is attainable, and make adjustments to the specific goal if necessary.

RELEVANT – Is this the right goal to chase? Is there another product that has been gaining in popularity that might be more deserving of your focus?

TIME-BOUND – You have established a timeline of a year, but you can make adjustments if you discover that your resources are better spent on a different product later in the year.


This step of the model is where you assess the current situation with regard to the goal you have set. What is the current sales level of Widget A? Were last year’s sales greater than the previous year’s sales? If so, by how much? What is the strength of Widget A’s competition? Will technology make Widget A obsolete within the year? Depending on the answers to these and similar questions you might want to revise your goal.

Obstacles → Options

What obstacles might be in your way? Do you have the production capacity to increase your output of Widget A by 5%? Do you have enough salespeople with sufficient talent to generate more orders for Widget A in the coming year?

Given these potential obstacles, you need to look at the options you have for attaining your goal. Should you increase the production time of the machinery that makes Widget A, re-tool other machinery to supplement the existing Widget A lines, or invest in additional machinery? Should you ask your existing sales staff to increase their focus on Widget A at the expense of other products, do you set up a bonus structure that incentivizes the sales of Widget A, or do you hire additional sales staff to focus on Widget A?

Way Forward

Once you have evaluated the obstacles to attaining your goal and considered the options available for overcoming those obstacles, you need to develop a plan for moving forward. You will need to ensure that every member of your team affected by the goal and your plan is onboard and motivated to see it through. You should also evaluate the progress periodically throughout the year and reevaluate the goals and incentives as needed.

Although this example is a simplistic look at what in reality is a very complex business planning and decision process, the framework can be applied to almost any goal–personal or professional. Give it a try. And here’s to a successful 2019!

Meet the Author

Melinda brings several years of experience to ThirdSide to help navigate the challenges of growth.

When not working to keep project tasks flowing, Melinda finds time to nurture her creative side (yes, even project managers have a creative side) by trying out new recipes on her husband and three daughters.

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