The New Year is almost here and you, just like us here at MWLO probably started thinking about the upcoming year, new goals, ideas, and new beginnings. I’m sure you also reflect on what was accomplished this past year or whether it was a good year. Some of us would compare the notes to see if the goals set last year were accomplished, while others would not even remember the goals they set.
The fact is that the same pattern occurs every year. When the New Year is approaching, we all want to start some things over, be nice, work harder, accomplish more, start a new business, find someone new, or simply be better off or make more money. However, many of us realize that we did not accomplish everything we wanted during the year. Then we set some new goals or reframe the old ones, and promise ourselves that the upcoming year will be different and that we will achieve better results.
Why does the goal setting cycle repeat around the same time every year?
Research shows that the end of November and beginning of December of each year is the time when people start thinking about the upcoming year – about the future and how they can create their own. For some strange reason many of us would not set any big goals in the middle of the year or some other time of the year. Our human nature tells us that the New Year is the best time for new beginnings. This is the time when we can start over, improve on things, set new goals, accomplish new things, etc. The New Year is like a new blank page – when we close an old book and start a new story full of possibilities.
But for some reason or another, most of our goals never get reached.
Why is that?
Let’s look at the other side of the coin, i.e. why you do not always achieve the results you want. Whether it is to lose 15 pounds, learn Spanish, better manage time, spend more time with your family, or earn more money, find love, buy a new car, change jobs, find a job… you name it, you set the goals and sometimes forget about them.
Do you know why? This may happen because you:
- are no longer interested in pursuing certain goal;
- simply forget about what you wanted to achieve if you never wrote it down;
- do not evaluate your progress and reassess “where” you are from time to time;
- do not know how to set good realistic goals
- do not do this for yourself, but maybe because you feel obligated to achieve what people around you want, etc.
Can you think of anything else?
Now, ask yourself this…
- How often do I accomplish goals that I set?
- How many years in the last 10 have I accomplished at least 50% of the goals I set?
- What were the reasons that some of the goals were not reached?
If you ever thought of any of this before, this means that you care about yourself and your promises, and you get upset when at the end of the year you do not see the results of your last year’s New Year’s resolution. But don’t be disappointed with yourself as this happens to everyone and I mean – everyone- not some, not most of us, but everyone. At some point of our lives we do not achieve what we want. This is called LIFE.
Therefore, here are some tips for you to make sure that your New Year’s resolutions are meaningful to you and not going down the drain.
Goal Setting Tips
Have S.M.A.R.T. Goals
- Set Specific Goals
Be specific about want you achieve. Do not set generic goals like “I want to make more money”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we all want to make more money. However, everyone’s interpretation of what “being rich” means can be different. To some of us this might mean monetary wealth while to others “being rich” may not be even associated with material things. Specify what you want to achieve; break your goal down into several sentences, if needed.
Keep it simple and clear. Pretend that you write a goal, and the next time you read it is in a year. Would you understand now what you meant a year ago? When writing a goal, make sure you’re clear about what you want. Even if another person reads your goal, he/she needs to understand your goal and what exactly you want to accomplish. Phrase it in such a way that when at any point of time you look at it, you know exactly where you’re “going” – what you want to accomplish.
- Set Measurable Goals
Set the goals that you can actually measure and evaluate. The purpose of the goal setting process is to make sure that at the end you achieve it. How will you know if you achieved a goal if you never do not measure your success = goal accomplishment?
So make sure you state specifically what and when you want to accomplish and how you are going to measure your progress. If you cannot measure your goal, i.e. see the measurable result at the end, you will not be able to manage the execution.
Set the criteria to measure your progress. If you want to stay on track and see your progress, you need to know how you will evaluate the advancement towards the goal. Set the milestones by breaking down the goal into smaller steps with a built in timeline (i.e. date to accomplish the milestone). Once you get through the milestones, you will be able to see if and how you are moving forward. This will help you to clearly see the progress and results, stay on track, and motivate yourself to move forward.
- Set Achievable/ Attainable Goals
Did you know that you can achieve almost any goal you set? It is all about developing yourself towards the goals you want to attain; gaining knowledge, developing skills, abilities, finances, etc. It is like going to school for your Master’s degree. First, you need to get your Bachelor’s degree, i.e., decide on your major, take classes, pay for classes, graduate, and only then take an exam, pass it and move towards the next Master’s degree.
You will identify goals and prioritize them based on how important they are to you and your situation, current skills, abilities, finances, etc. You need to determine what you can and cannot achieve at the given time or for the determined time frame and be realistic about it. You know you cannot fly a Boeing without a pilot license and experience. So first, you’d need to set more attainable goals like getting finances, going to school and getting a license.
- Set Realistic Goals
Of course, you may set any goals you want, but do not expect to accomplish things like… losing 30 pounds in 2 weeks, flying to the moon, or earning 5 million dollars in a month. For some this may be achievable, but for the rest of us – common people – it is fairly unlikely to accomplish such goals right now and without proper planning. Do not set yourself for failure, set goals that you think you can accomplish.
If you want to challenge yourself, my suggestion is to give yourself less time to reach the goal or to set a slightly higher standard. For example, you want to start a new business. Your original plan was to get it off the ground in one year and have 10 clients by the end of year one. If you want challenge yourself, you may want to give yourself less than 1 year to achieve this and set a goal not for 10, but maybe 15 clients. Don’t forget, however, that with this “challenge” you’ll need to invest more time in developing business and/or more money to progress faster.
Be realistic about your capabilities and abilities. Weigh all the options and possibilities of what you can and cannot do, what you can or cannot control (most of us tend to think that we can control things when, in reality, we cannot), and how much time something can really take.
- Set Timely Goals
Time frame is necessary when setting goals. This gives you a deadline and idea of when you need to see the results and finish a project = achieve your goal. If a goal has no date or time frame, you do not know when it needs to be accomplished. Therefore, there is no commitment, you will not hold yourself accountable nor you can develop a plan on how you are going to get where you want to be.
If you say “I want to go Hawaii.” This is just some idea that you might like to visit Hawaii someday, but it is not a goal that you set for yourself and work towards achieving it. A goal would sound like “I will visit Hawaii in August of 2010.” A goal with a time frame will enable you to set your mind into motion and give you an urgency to start working on achieving a goal.
Time is also very important when you prioritize your goals. When you write all your goals, prioritize them and separate them into short term (what you want to accomplish next week, next month or next 90 days) and long term goals (what you want to accomplish next year, next 5 years). This will give you an idea of which goals are more important or urgent, which ones need more time to work on, etc.
Note, when setting time, make sure it is reasonable and realistic. A target date should help you accomplish what you want, not to overstretch or bring unnecessary stress into your life.
And there you have it! Use the tools I gave you to set yourself up for success in 2017. Do you have any tips or any goals/resolutions you’d like to share?