The start of a new year is the most popular time to create new goals and plans. Planning and goal setting are great ways to reflect on what you want to do in all aspects of your life.
Consider making goals in a variety of categories, like:
New year’s resolutions can be infamous for their failure. With a better understanding of smart goal setting, you'll be more likely to make your plans happen.
Here are 5 techniques to help you achieve your goals and dreams.
1. Be realistic
One of the best ways to ensure you can check off your goals is to be realistic about what you can make happen.
Consider where you are now and where you want to be. Next, think about the first step you will need to take to reach that future. Write down the “stretch goal” (the high-risk, high-effort end goal). Then, write down the steps you will need to take to get started.
Many successful planners use S.M.A.R.T. goals. You can use this acronym to remember how to write more attainable goals:
S stands for Specific
M stands for Measurable
A stands for Achievable
R stands for Relevant
T stands for Timed
Your goal this year is to get a job promotion. First, think about the intention of the goal. Why do you want a promotion? What will it feel like when you get the promotion? How will your life be different once you get promoted?
Now, think about the steps you will need to take to get the job. It could be helpful to talk to your manager about why you want a job promotion.
What promotions are available or will be available throughout the year? Find out if there are any actions you can take to work towards that promotion. Perhaps there are some extra responsibilities you can take on. Or, maybe you can take some professional development courses in areas that can help you become more qualified.
Some goals that you could write down out of this exercise include:
2. Create timelines
Setting realistic goals is an awesome first step. Now, it’s important to assign some accountability to your goals to make sure you get them done. This is where the T portion of our S.M.A.R.T goal comes into play - come up with realistic timelines for your goals.
Using the example from step 1, you are more likely to have that conversation with your manager if you put a deadline on it.
Have a conversation with my manager by February 1st.
By adding that date, now you have something to hold yourself accountable to. Go ahead and put a reminder on your calendar a few weeks before the deadline to remind you to request the meeting with your manager.
3. Develop a check-in process
Now that you have a solid foundation - realistic goals with timelines, you’re ready to develop a check-in process so you can manage your goals effectively.
Schedule monthly or quarterly reviews of your goals. With enough time in between so you will have made at least some progress.
After completing each check in, you will need to assess your progress and decide if adjustments need to be made. Lay out your adjusted process if any of your goals have changed.
Periodic check-ins allow you to gradually track your goal throughout the year and can be critical toward overall success.
4. Go easy on yourself
It’s ok if you don’t complete all your goals. One of the biggest reasons I recommend focusing on several different areas of life is that you are likely to work on some areas more than others. By having goals across the board, you are more likely to see at least some areas of success.
Also, you may decide as time goes by that the goal you set isn’t really what you wanted to do. That’s ok, too.
It adds to the many reasons to review your goals and plans on a more regular basis. You will start to discover which goals are serving you and which ones you should change or even get rid of.
5. Use tools for planning
There are lots of tools you can use to help with planning and goal setting. One of my favorite tools is the Note app on my smartphone. It’s accessible and easy for me to check often to see where I’m at with my goals. On an iPhone, you can even create a checklist where you can check off each item as you complete it.
A shared document like Google Docs is another great way to have regular access to your plans and goals. It’s a convenient and easy way to check back on your progress or update your plans from multiple devices. You can even ask a friend to be your accountability partner and they can help you keep tabs on your goals and give you reminders every once in a while.
A professional development plan (PDP) can help you use goals to represent your commitment to your career. Your PDP should document your short and long-term goals. It should include the required skills and competency development of your field. It should also list the objectives you will need to do to support your career development.
To sum it all up, try out the above tips to help you make this year’s goals more successful. Start by being intentional about your goals. Take the time to understand what types of success plans you’d like to create.
Whether your goals and plans are for your career development or personal hobbies, use S.M.A.R.T. goals in your planning.
Don’t just set it and forget it. Check in on your goals to update and change them. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. As time passes and things change, it’s totally ok to update your goals or decide to focus on something else.
Finally, use tools to help you along the way. There are apps and plans like PDPs that can help hold you accountable. Or, you can write things down on a piece of notebook paper or a whiteboard. Some people even enjoy making a vision board using pictures and words cut out of magazines!
No matter how you decide to start working on your plans and goals, we wish you success!