Every year at this time, people start thinking about their New Year’s resolutions and goals for the next year. Recently I became aware of some confusion regarding resolutions, goals, tactics, and wishes. And, I want to set the record straight!
As the leader of a mastermind group, last year about this time, I asked everyone to submit their goals for the year. I gave no direction or education… just simply requested goals for the year.
Each individual sent dramatically different forms of “goals”. They took the form of everything from SMART goals to general ideas, from themes to specific activities. When reminding everyone last week that we would talk about progress vs. goals at our first meeting in January next year, they collectively gasped. And, I shared what they had originally provided because they could no longer remember.
What I learned from this experience is multi-fold and can be applied to your goals as well.
Goals vs. Resolutions vs. Dreams vs. Tactics
Resolutions don’t work. They are more like dreams. They sound like this: “I resolve to spend more time with my kids” or “I resolve to relax more.” These examples are not goals; they are “resolutions” and more succinctly, pipe dreams.
Some people also like to list everything they’re going to do. This laundry list approach is also not goal setting. It is providing a list of tactics to use to meet a goal, perhaps, but the “why” is missing. “Send expense reports in on time” might be a tactic used to reach your goal of “reducing my overall debt by 25% per month.” In and of itself though, it is not a goal. So, how do you set good goals?
Setting Good Goals
First, if you can’t remember your goals by the end of the year, they might not be good goals. When you are setting them, you need to be thinking about what is most important to you. Do you want to increase your revenue? Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you want to spend more time with your family or write a book. But, making a laundry list of all the things you want to change in your life isn’t going to work.
Take some baby steps. Remember that goals must be attainable and relevant. Do you want to lose weight? Great. So do I! I have for 45 years. So, maybe that’s not something I really want to do. Maybe it is not attainable and relevant if I’d prefer to have a lot of dinner parties and drink a lot of wine. (Ya think?)
But, this past year, I finally set that goal correctly. I chose a challenging, but achievable number of pounds to lose. I actively sought ways to change what had not been working for years to find something that would. I was highly motivated because I wanted to get rid of a lot of aches and pains.
Unfortunately, it took a while to find that something, so I started losing much later in the year than planned. I’m not going to meet the goal. However, I have made much more progress than in years before because of how I approached it. I’m calling it a win, even if I didn’t meet the exact number.
Now, I have habits that I can continue following, removing my need – completely – for a goal on this topic. I can continue the tactics, but don’t need to make it a goal. It’s just part of my everyday life now.
Tactics Surrounding Goals
Goals also don’t “just happen.” Back to my mastermind group who couldn’t remember what goals they set…. If you aren’t actively working toward your goals, constantly keeping them top of mind, they go back to becoming pipe dreams, even if you have them stated in the proper format.
So, following the SMART goal format, you set your goal to be, “Increase annual business revenue by 25%.” It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. But, what are you doing every day, every week, every month to make progress vs. that goal. Are you selling something new? Are you marketing a different way? What are the tactics?
After you set your goal, you need to sit down and project manage yourself into achieving your goal. What are you doing differently to push yourself to get there? Are you assessing your progress every month when you close the month’s books? Do you know how much more you have to make? Are you watching your Quickbooks dashboard to see how you’re doing?
When I set a goal, I schedule the tactics in my project management system and then my monthly check-ins go into my task list. So, every month, I’m assessing where I am. If you do that, you’re able to adjust as you go to accommodate an exceptionally good or bad month.
When to Give Up on a Goal
Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Or other things have become a higher priority. For example, in 2018, I wanted to write a book. I had tactics planned to do it… the first one being to schedule writing time on my calendar. I knew I couldn’t start until about 4 months into the year due to prior commitments. So, in April, I was to schedule writing time on the calendar.
Well, by that time, I had too many speaking engagements on my agenda to start until mid-August. I was tired from writing the presentations and was a little burned out, so I actively, and intentionally, decided to hold on the book. Just let it go. And that’s OK.
You might sense a theme through all of these examples. Be intentional. Be aware if you’ve pushed yourself too hard. Don’t be afraid to say no, even to yourself.
If you struggle in reaching your goals regularly, you might need some help and guidance to focus, plan with ease and to stop worrying. My colleague, Productivity Coach Carol Williams, has a Jumpstart for Success 2019 Program that can help you get there. Check it out and consider trying it.
This post is our last for 2018. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and intentional successes in 2019!
Also published on Medium.