Around this time of year, people start reflecting on the previous months and begin setting goals (and resolutions) for the coming year.
I’ve also always done this until a recent event changed my perspective completely. It happened by chance on my birthday at the 180th Meridian, the international date line. In a split second I was simultaneously standing in today and yesterday. Quite amazing, however, it made me realize that a date is just an arbitrary number — a line literally drawn on a map.
As I reflected on a new “birth year”, it made me realize that “start dates” can be counter-productive when it comes to setting goals and resolutions. Why wait until an arbitrary date in the future like Jan 1, or next week, or even tomorrow to make a change that will be impactful in your life or in your career?
Why wait to plan that once-in a-lifetime trip, why wait to plan your financial future, why wait to get healthy and fit? All goals will require time and action steps to accomplish, so why delay the start until sometime in the future?
As human beings, we fall into a second trap of mistaking our daily to-do lists with our goals. We often set too many goals and try to change too many things at once—and then we get busy with life and only accomplish a few of them. Once we get busy, it’s easy to lose focus, and have the day-to-day to-dos of work, kids, school etc. take over the goals we want to accomplish. How many times have we all said, “ I don’t have time to go to the gym”, or “I don’t have time to go on vacation!”
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly and unapologetically— to say “no” to other things.” -Stephen Covey
Here are 10 Best Practices for setting goals that I have learned:
1) Set only one or two (maximum) Key Goals you want to accomplish in a certain period of time
2) Write down your goal and WHY is it important for you to accomplish this goal
3) What do you need to STOP doing in order to accomplish this goal?
4) Set a specific timeframe & metrics needed to accomplish the goal
5) Work backwards from the date above and calendar the steps below
6) Set the specific, actionable and controllable steps needed to reach that goal
7) Ask yourself, am I in control of these action steps, or are they dependent on someone else? If so, change your action steps because you can’t let someone else control your goal, or plan an accountability metric and share it with that person
8) Set check points along the way to track your progress
9) Share your goals and action items with someone else and engage them as your accountability partner
10) Don’t wait…Start today!
Without specific mini steps along the way, the goal has the danger of becoming just a wish.
Katty Douraghy – President at Artisan Creative