Recent research indicates you’ve already given up on your New Years’ resolutions (January 19 appears to be the magic date). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Since 1997, I’ve set annual goals and achieved them consistently. You can too. This article outlines annual goal-setting best practices and provides tips to help achieve those goals.
In 1997, my roommate suggested we both write down our goals and keep them somewhere visible, where we’d see them daily. I created a list of one-, two-, five- and 10-year goals. I taped them to my nightstand and looked at them every day, at least twice a day. I tried to ensure the goals were SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based). After seeing the goals daily for years, I was able to check off all 10 of my goals, many of them early.
I admit most of the goals felt outlandish and virtually not achievable back then, but due to my daily reminders, intention, and accountability, they became reality. I learned the simple act of writing down your goals and reading them, even if nobody else knows about them, can be extremely effective. That simple exercise changed the trajectory of my life and career and could do the same for you.
In 2007, I became a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and my goal-setting game improved significantly. I started to create intention around four key quadrants in my life as an entrepreneur: personal, family, community and business. I’ve learned not to create more than 10 goals total, so typically two or so for each of the four categories.
One step I’ve found helpful is to have one or more individuals hold me accountable for achieving those goals. I typically share my annual and quarterly goals with one or more accountability groups (family, advisers, and coworkers). I’ve found that this helps to hold me to my word, and that those groups are also able to help me achieve those goals in ways I couldn’t without their inspiration, experience, networks and support.
When setting personal, professional, family and community goals, think short- and long-term. Each quadrant has different constituents and expectations, so timelines will vary. For example, my daily and weekly goals are both personal and professional, but my monthly and quarterly goals are typically professionally focused. My annual goals are all four quadrants. For long-term goals, I’ve found 10 years is as far out as anyone under 60 should worry about. For everything else, create a bucket list.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate or nearing retirement, goal-setting can be a powerful tool to get you to your end game, if not through the month. One parting thought: Some of the goals I wrote down five to 10 years ago didn’t make sense when I had the resources to check them off, so I changed them. Moving the yardstick is OK, especially if your personal needs, career or lifestyle has changed. Regardless, I encourage you to set your goals for 2020 (and beyond) now and break them down into smaller quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily achievable goals. If you do nothing else after reading this article, please write down a few goals and tape them to your nightstand, bathroom mirror or refrigerator and see what happens. What do you have to lose?