January 1st each year means different things for everyone: a fresh start, a second chance, an opportunity to try new experiences, and a commitment to making resolutions for a better “you.” Making New Year resolutions can be stressful and, let’s be honest, are often nonexistent after the month of January. The resolutions are often unrealistic, people haven’t taken the time to plan for how the resolution is actually going to work, and people often do them alone to prove to themselves they can do it.
For our Sigma Delta Tau chapters, January 1st comes more than once a year—at the end of the semester, at the beginning of a new quarter, or at the installment of a new executive board. I can guarantee that whether you are a chapter advisor or a chapter executive board member, you just let out an anxiety-provoked “sigh.” Let’s face it, we’re excited for the new start, but we feel the pressure to “get it right.” We have a plethora of new ideas, but will we ever really get to them? The answer is “YES!” if you follow these simple guidelines for goal setting:
1. Celebrate Successes, Admit to Shortcomings
I’m a chapter advisor and I recently had my winter meeting with the Beta Tau chapter at Rutgers University and the new executive board members. I think it is important to include the outgoing board members at the meeting and ask them to write down:
- Three of their accomplishments
- Three challenges they faced
- A piece of advice for the incoming board member
This simple conversation not only encourages the outgoing board members to be reflective on their term, but it shines light on successes and helps kick start a conversation on areas of improvement we still need to work on. For chapter executive board members, find comfort in knowing a perfect chapter doesn’t exist. For chapter advisors, you just jump started the open lines of communication we all expect from our chapter leaders.
2. Be “SMART”
Chapter advisors and executive board members should develop and set goals together, making sure the goals fit into the college lifestyle. You can never go wrong with SMART goal setting:
S=Specific. What exactly do you want to achieve? Example: Instead of “We want to increase attendance at chapter meetings,” be specific, such as “We will increase attendance at chapter meetings by providing weekly incentives at each chapter meeting.”
M=Measurable. How are we going to evaluate the extent to which the goal has been met? Example: This could be a running record of the incentives you provided at each chapter meeting.
A=Achievable. The goals should be challenging, but within your ability to achieve. Example: Providing incentives at all 15-20 of your chapter meetings may be a lot at first, so start by providing incentives at 8-10 of your meetings and work your way up.
R=Relevant. How does your goal tie into your core values as a member of Sigma Delta Tau? Example: One of our values as SDT women is to instill a sense of philanthropy. Many of the specifics around the planning process or even generating ideas for service happen at your chapter meetings and you want your sisters to be there to engage in a true democracy.
T=timely. Set one or more target dates to guide your goal to successful and timely completion. Example: We will reach x by x date.
3. Grab a Friend
In this case, grab a sister! Don’t expect to accomplish your goals alone or expect that you have to accomplish them alone. You have an army of sisters to help you meet your goals. Delegate some of the work to them, knowing that with delegation, mistakes are bound to happen. See these mistakes as a way to help your sisters grow and develop as leaders, too.
I wish all of you a successful 2015, whether you’ve started your semester already or are about to jump into a fresh new few months. Remember, you can reach your goals as long as you celebrate successes and admit to shortcomings, you’re “SMART,” and you grab a sister! Stand out and prove that “WE” can do it together!
Christina Roman, Beta Tau-Rutgers, is on National Council, serving as an advisor to Beta Tau, and is the co-chairman for Leadership School 2015 and the Collegiate Leadership Team.