Setting goals is about creating and following a roadmap or a GPS for your life and your business.
Sure you can just take what comes and roll along, but my belief is you’ll never get where you want to go without driving directions. If you'd rather not drive in circles, you will need to put together a plan.
You notice I don’t call goals “resolutions.” That term seems so temporary and fraught with negativity. The conventional wisdom is that no one keeps their resolutions. Or they express the same half-heared resolutions every year such as quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, take no concrete action and are expecting to fail. Working toward a goal is a different mind-set.
You can sit down and plan what you want the next 12 months to look like anytime, but the year-end holiday period is so much about “out with the old, in with the new,” why not make your plans now?
I promised myself I’d do more content curating this year to bring you extra value by sharing the wisdom of other authorities so here goes.
One of my favorite experts on personal growth, leadership and productivity is Michael Hyatt. Here’s one of his blog posts from just before Christmas and a podcast he did about the topic of goal setting.
Mon Dec 23 2013 – The 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make in Setting Goals
Podcast Replay – Live Q & A about Goal Setting Podcast
I’ve been writing down what I want the year to bring since I was a college girl (a long, long time ago) and when I look back I’ve ticked off many boxes on the achievement yardstick I set for myself.
Do I nail every goal every time? Mostly yes, but not always. Life has a way of throwing curveballs when you’re making plans. Still, even when I’ve fallen short, I’ve learned a lot and in retrospect often appreciated the process for being almost as satisfying as reaching the destination would have been.
I am sure there are apps for goal setting and tracking but my personal method is old school. I sit down with a calendar, blank paper and my daily agenda book. I decide a handful of big picture items I want to accomplish by Dec 31, pick one to focus on for each quarter (12 weeks) and then work backyard to list the tasks monthly and weekly on my calendar and agenda book that I expect will get me there. I make smaller goals too and map those out on my daily and weekly to-do list.
To me, the secret is setting consistent internal deadlines! I’ve always worked from a "to-do" list every day and over the years, I've learned to be more realistic about what I can accomplish. I don’t write down a thousand things I want to do or a thousand steps I have to take to make it happen.
That kind of list would overwhelm me before I got started. Instead I aim for the big 4, one for each quarter, and make sure I leave room for the smaller achievements so I can celebrate mini-milestones as I go along.
I am sure some people will think my process itself is too left-brained. Where’s the creativity and artistry in making lists and marking calendars? They'd rather just go with the flow and enjoy life.
I get that. Do what works for you, but I’ve always looked at structure in the same way Julie Andrews does:
“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
Here’s an excellent post from the Chasing Happy Blog with a worksheet. It’s aimed at setting blogging goals but can apply to any goal.
Setting Blog Goals for 2014 [+ worksheet]
Two other resources I recommend are books. My old stand-by is a favorite by Henriette Anne Klauser. I keep the paperback by my bedside and read it often. Now it’s also available as a Kindle book:
Write It Down Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want and Getting It
The other by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington was published in 2013 and takes its process from the seasonality of the sports world:
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months
It’s available in hard cover and as a Kindle book. It resonated with me because I break my big goals up into quarterly tasks, so in a way, I’ve used their 12 week execution cycle for years without knowing it!
I hope these tools get you moving toward achieving your heart’s desire in the months ahead. Have you come up with a system that works for you? Please share and leave a comment.
The guide to shortening your execution cycle down from one year to twelve weeks
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