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Stepping into a new year with goals to achieve your dreams requires both courage and a plan. Without one or the other, success is unlikely. Courage is needed because regularly facing our dreams can sometimes be scary and fear-inducing; a plan is needed because you need to know how to move forward and work past the fear and obstacles that can hold you back. For those who have been trying for a while to make a change, create something different in life and hit those goals, 2019 is the year to make it happen and we’re here to help!
As someone who annually sets goals and is always in a constant state of self-improvement, I know how hard it can be to look back at the past year and see what didn’t get done. What happened? I had 365 days to do things and yet I didn’t. Why? I have learned that it’s better to not beat myself up over what I didn’t achieve and instead take the time to really think about what I want and why I want it. Once I have that set in my head and written down, it’s time to build a plan. This is often where my (and I’m certain I’m not alone in this) goal setting and goal achievement falls apart. I don’t give myself a way to get to the end result I want.
I’ll be changing things up this year in terms of goal setting. Each year I try to alter how I write my goals out and present them visually so that it isn’t just a rollover of previous years. I want to keep them fresh and evolving. So, this year I’ll be taking the advice of a colleague I trust a great deal and who makes me a little envious because of how much she constantly gets done! She suggests setting 3-month goals that may or may not lead to a larger goal. I love this approach, I’ll have great big goals, annual goals and three-month goals. One of the keys here is actually defining the goals and writing them down. Studies have shown there is a far greater likelihood of achieving the desired result when it is defined, analyzed and recorded.
Combining this with the three-month strategy allows us to take what may feel like an overwhelming goal and break it down into smaller chunks. What can be done in three months? What can be done in a month? You need to be aware of your time and the time needed to achieve certain things. You also need to be aware of the steps required to get to the end result which may take a short period of time, a year or more.
So, now that I’ve shared one strategy, let’s look more deeply at personal goals, setting goals at work and goals in life and ways to create a better shot at success in achieving them.
1. Exercise more
2. Lose weight
3. Get organized
4. Learn a new skill or hobby
5. Live life to the fullest
6. Save more money/spend less money
7. Quit smoking
8. Spend more time with family and friends
9. Travel more
10. Read more
While these new year’s resolution ideas are standard and common, there’s a big problem with them – they don’t have any measurements or specifics to help you break them down into smaller chunks and create a plan or to know when you’ve achieved your desired result. How much is more? What does more time with family and friends look like?
SMART goals are one way to help.
Let’s take #4 from the list as an example. Perhaps you want to start a new career. According to the SMART goal formula, your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Taking the objective of a new career and breaking it down, some of your goals might include: exploring schools that provide the education you need, networking with others in the field, setting up information interviews to learn more about the field, jobs and other details, saving money for education, researching growing companies in the field, etc.
If exploring schools is one of your smaller goals, to make it a SMART goal, it might look like this:
– Find 5 schools (in my desired regional area that teach a program in my field) each week for 5 weeks so that I have a list of 25 possible schools by the middle of February.
This is specific in that you know what you need to do. There is some flexibility. You could do the research online, by contacting others or reaching out through social media. It’s measurable because you need to do 5 a week to end up with 25 by mid-February which is also time-bound. It’s achievable because you know you have the time and ability to research 5 schools a week and it’s relevant because it is one of the steps needed to achieve the larger goal of starting a new career.
Other things that will help you along the way include: keeping the new year’s resolution list short, tracking them (use automation if it helps) and sharing them with others. These are effective tools no matter whether the goals are big or small. A short list prevents overwhelm and maintains focus. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 goals per tracking period (these can be part of larger goals, but keep what you are currently working on to a small number). Tracking them and seeing progress will motivate you and there are many online tools like Asana, Trello, Todoist and others to help. Most importantly sharing your goals will make them more tangible and you will feel a sense of accountability to others to do what you’ve set your intentions to.
I started outlining my goals on New Year’s Day this year. But, I’ll be following that slightly different strategy from previous years by creating both a three-month plan and an annual plan. No matter how you do it, just writing them down puts you miles ahead of most people. Creating a plan gets you even further and taking that plan and breaking it down into actionable steps is perhaps the best way to get to the outcome you want.
Happy New Year and we wish you all the success you’re dreaming of!