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A New Year inevitably means new challenges – but also new opportunities for growth and development both personally and professionally.

The most common resolution for the New Year: weight-loss. Why? Because weight loss can be attributed to cause and effect: I worked out three times per week (cause) and lost six pounds (effect)! Weight loss can also be easily measured using a scale and by how you feel and how your clothes fit.

Thousands of people set personal goals of shedding between 10 to 20 pounds in the New Year. Some people celebrate when they meet their weight loss while others never get to the finish line. But they all had one thing in common: a measurable goal was set, a plan was implemented, and benchmarks were reached (or not) based on the goals set.

You can use that same strategy for setting and reaching your professional and career goals. And in January, Employ Up is providing some useful tips – and lots of motivation – so you can identify and successfully reach your professional goals in 2017.

The New Year New You campaign runs from January 1 through January 31. It is a collaborative campaign supported by many community-based organizations and agencies focused on helping Indianapolis residents succeed in their personal and professional lives. The month-long campaign encourages residents to create SMART goals and to track those goals throughout the year.

SMART is a simple acronym used when setting new goals for yourself or your career. SMART goals are focused measurable, attainable improvements, and are the guide Employ Up is using in its New Year New You effort.

Here is a guide to what SMART goals are and how to use them to your advantage:

S = Specific: attainable, SMART goals are specific. An example of a general goal would be: I want to get more training. An example of a specific goal would be: I want to enroll in a professional training program to earn a specialized certification.

M = Measurable: all goals should have a unit of measurement. How will you know if you reached your goal? You need to define what success looks like so you know if you have reached it. If your specific goal is to earn a certification, the measurement of success is whether or not you have earned the certification at the end of your training program. Set up milestones and celebrate when you meet those along the way. Those milestone successes will keep you motivated and encouraged to keep striving for your goal.

A = Attainable: all goals must be reasonable and attainable. Be careful not to reach for an unrealistic goal or set an unrealistic timeline. If you want to earn a certification, find a training program that fits your schedule, budget, and aptitudes.

R = Relevant: SMART goals are relevant to your overall resolution and path. If you are looking to be a certified CPA, taking classes to be a zookeeper aren’t in your best interest. A dramatic example, sure. But it is imperative that your goals be relevant to your overall path.

T = Timely: Make sure you have set a timeline for reaching your goals. It’s important to have a timeframe and a deadline for achievement. You don’t want to give yourself an unrealistic timeline, nor do you want a timeline that can be pushed back again and again. Determine an end date for reaching your goals and hold yourself to it.