1) “Begin with the end in mind.” - Stephen Covey
Too often, we set a goal without a clear vision of what a “successful” outcome might look like. Before you set a goal, get clear on your best-case end result. Where are you going and how will you get there? It is critical that our desired outcome, vision, is clearly defined and remains front of mind. Take the time to solidify your vision. Write it down. Then, write down how achieving your goal gets you closer to your vision. For individual goals be clear what “success” for each goal would look like to you. Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s much easier to achieve it.
2) The Devil is in the details. Take the time to create a solid plan. Don’t jump into the “action” phase of a goal before you’ve taken the time to contemplate and prepare properly. Do the work and think about your vision and the steps it will take to get there. What might get in your way or prevent success? What challenges do you anticipate and how might you overcome them? What time frame is best for this goal, and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Write all of this down, creating a plan you can follow to achieve your goal.
3) Be positive. Write goals in the positive and use the active present tense. Instead of telling yourself what NOT to do, tell yourself what TO do. It helps you feel more empowered and focused on how to achieve your goal. And speaking in the present helps your mind act as if you have already achieved your goal. It helps you believe in yourself, reminding you of what you are capable of achieving.
4) “What gets measured, gets managed.” - Peter Drucker
Measurement and tracking is paramount. Your plan must include a system/strategy to measure your progress towards both your goals and your overall vision. Most goals fail because there is no system of measurement and evaluation. Keep your measurements simple, whatever works for you is great, as long as it helps you measure and evaluate where you are. Only in knowing where you are can you get to where you are headed.
5) You have taken the steps outlined above now you have to ensure that your plan is known. Accountability will drive you in your pursuit of both your goals and your vision. You have taken the step to write down your Vision and your goals; now it’s time to make it all public. Share your Vision, share your goals. Writing down and verbalizing your vision and your goals will help hold you accountable. Key to successful goal-setting is accountability. If we have no accountability, it’s going to be hard to stay the course when things get tough. Some of us are great with holding ourselves accountable–checking in, reevaluating, encouraging, and sticking with it on our own–but many are not. According to research, most people do best by having a “partner” to help achieve goals. Consider setting up a “buddy system” with a teammate, coach, friend or family member, who you check in with regularly regarding your goals and vision. However you do it, make yourself accountable–to yourself and/or to someone else–and you’re more likely to stick with and eventually achieve your goals.
Happy New Year.