Every year, people set New Year’s Resolutions and fail within weeks, and the most underrated way to keep up with these is to set concrete goals, not set resolutions.
Firstly, there are three fundamental aspects to effective goal setting:
- Review your last year – what went well and what didn’t. This will inform your goals for the next year and what, if anything, needs to be done differently.
- You are far, far, more likely to achieve your goals if you put them down in writing and continue to track your progress.
- Your goals need to be aligned with your ‘why’ or your ‘purpose’ – otherwise, they are things you should do but are not driven to do and so will subside once the New Year motivation wanes.
Secondly, goals need to be effectively framed. Using the SMART framework is the most commonly cited system in the productivity world.
Goals should be:
- Specific - be as specific as possible
- Measurable - put in place measures so you know when you have achieved them
- Actionable - include an action verb
- Risky - there should be some stretch (but not too much) in your goals
- Time-bound - you need a date or a frequency associated with the goals
Michael Hyatt, a productivity and leadership coach, adds an additional two elements to make it SMARTER. He adds:
- Exciting - you need to be motivated by the goal to keep going
- Relevant - it should be relevant to your overarching goals in your career or in life
Today’s busy work culture means that people are often caught between personal and work goals. People are driven to succeed at work but also know that to achieve their career goals, they need to be healthy and have enough time away from the desk for their friends and family.
We should all have goals that span their personal and professional life. Health and fitness goals, in particular, align with the ability to be effective – they allow you to be alert and energized. Personal interest goals also give a mental separation from work demands.
A career goal may be to gain a promotion, make a partner, progress in the partnership or grow the revenue of a practice. These goals cannot be the goal however – these types of goals need to be reverse-engineered into smaller consistent steps.
The career goal is an achievement goal and the smaller consistent steps are generally termed habit goals.
The size of the achievement goals usually require that a number of smaller steps be executed to reach these goals.
These smaller steps should be recorded and measured. Examples may include:
- To increase my personal profile by writing a set number of articles or a set number of posts per month;
- To attend a set number of networking events per month and meet 5 new people who I may be able to help or who may be able to help my practice;
- To commit to upskilling in an area of practice;
- To present at conferences or seminars a set number of times per year;
- To put in place regular mentoring sessions with those I report to or manage;
If executed consistently each of these types of habit goals will feed into the overall career goal. Without consistent tracking of these habit goals, the career goal is doomed to fail.
Writing down and keeping track of these goals, whether they be in your personal or professional lives and keeping track of how they feed into your overall goals will help you to keep track and make you more successful to achieve them and make a change in your life. Using these strategies instead of vague New Year’s Resolutions mean that you are more likely to improve yourself and your life.