Setting Goals

Whether you can believe it or not, the year is over.  In just a few short weeks we will wave goodbye to 2011.  Hopefully you achieved your goals, and you have created specific goals for next year. What’s that?  You haven’t set goals for 2012?  Your competitor has.  Good businesses and smart people plan their year well in advance to make sure they can establish a specific method to drive results.  If you wait until the New Year to do this, it’s already too late.

So how do you set goals and create a plan to accomplish them?  Start by thinking of long-term and short-term results that you would like to achieve.  You might ask yourself some questions as a method of discovery:

Long-term (general lifestyle results):

  • What do I want my life to be like in 5 years?
  • Are there several short-term goals required to achieve that result?
  • How can I consistently measure short-term achievements as they relate to long-term success?

Short-term (specific incremental results):

  • What is the final result I want next year?
  • What daily actions are necessary to accomplish that result?
  • What resources do I need to make it happen?

Once you have a basic understanding for where you want your goals to take you, it is critical to develop a clear process to get there. Here’s how:

  • Establish daily action - The best way to consistently drive toward a goal is to create habits with actions you can take every day.  Don’t allow your goal to be something you do when you have time – break your overall goal into small activities that you can complete every day.
  • Set goals you can control - External forces that are out of your control can derail your plan.  Don’t assume that other people or special circumstances will help you.
  • Be realistic - It is easy to let yourself off the hook if you set goals so aggressive that they are unattainable.  Take into account the resources and time required so that you can develop a plan that is within reach.

As you move through the year, keep yourself on track with these techniques:

  • Set time-based goals - The end of the year does seem like a long time away on January 1, and it is easy to lose focus.  Create weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals to keep yourself on track.
  • Measure and reflect - Keep daily records of your actions.  Spend time considering your results and adjust your plan (not your goal) if you don’t feel like you’re moving in the right direction.
  • Create accountability - Share your goals with friends, coworkers, and employers so that you feel responsible for living up to your word.  Write a list as a reminder of specific details, and post it where you can see it regularly.

Most importantly, stop thinking of goals as “I would like to…” and focus more on “I will.”

Good luck!