At the beginning of every year, we hear people talk about their new year resolutions and goals. But as the year progresses, we hardly hear from the very same people about what happened to those resolutions and goals. That's probably because most of us are not able to keep up with our goals past the second week of the year.
We are at the half-year mark, and that means we still have six months left in this year to set and accomplish whatever we choose.
According to a study, about 92% of the new year goals failed by the January 15. So, I’m sure you're reading this because you want to be in the 8% of the people who actually accomplish what they set out for themselves.
We hear a lot about setting smart goals, but that's not where I start. The first thing we need to identify for ourselves is what we merely wish and what we actually want to achieve.
There are a few key things that I have experimented with which helped me achieve my goals.
At the beginning of the year, I set chunks of time for setting goals. I put my pen to paper and list out every single thing that I want to do and that year. Right from the big goals like travel, work, finances, to smaller goals like reading one Shakespeare play a year, meeting friends for coffee, learning how to use chopsticks. In the end, I have more than 50 things that I want to do in that year. I call it ‘Brain Dump.’ It's a running list, and I keep adding to it as I come across something that I want to do this year.
It may be hard for some people to come up with a list like this. So it's a good thing to ask yourself a few questions like, what's the one thing that I want to do this year, what are the habits I'd like to develop this year, what are the habits I'd like to break, what are the things you want to focus on, what you want to learn, what you want to improve at, etc.; these will guide you to come up with your list.
Once you have that list ready, start putting these down under headings like health, wealth/money, relationship, entertainment, career, you can create your own buckets like hobbies, skills. Once you have all your items moved from the brain dump list into these buckets, we can now start working on making these goals smart.
You must have heard of SMART GOALS.
But, HOW do you make a goal SMART?
Here is what I do to make my goals SMART.
I take a look at my list and pick each goal and ask these questions for each of them.
- Why do you want to do this?
- What would you need to do to reach this goal?
- What help would you need? What skill sets do you need to acquire?
- How long do you think it will take to reach this goal?
- By when do you want to achieve this goal?
At this time, I generally land up dropping a few goals that I realize are just wish, and I really don’t have any real intention of achieving them. By the time I am done, I have mini goals that are broadly working towards a big goal. For example; I want to take writing courses. I want to read n number of books. I want to write 500 words a day. All these are mini goals that are basically under I want to be a better writer. I also have a clear picture of how much time it will take to accomplish each of these goals and what actions I need to take to make them happen.
After this, I basically just plot them up under 0-24 months, 2-5 years, and 5+ years categories and Further dive into 0-24 months 90 days, 120 days, and 270 days based on the time the goals will take.
Done! There! My goals are ready.
I find that this is the easy part. I truly do. It’s the sticking to it and making sure I don’t fall off the wagon 15 days in is the challenging part. And for this what works for me is ACCOUNTABILITY.
Once I have worked out a plan that I am going to follow I have to keep a check on myself. Here is how I hold myself accountable and stay on top of my game:
1. Journal your progress.
I keep a journal and write down what I am doing, what’s working and what’s not. I use this time to reflect and see if what I had initially worked out is giving the results I had anticipated and then adjust my goals and actions accordingly.
I don’t wait until Mondays, beginning of the month, quarter, or wait for the next year to make changes. If I need to pivot today, I pivot.
2. Find an accountability buddy.
This one is my favorite. I have had two accountability buddies for two very different goals, and they helped me so much.
It’s important to find someone you can trust and share your goal/s with them and ask them to keep checking on you about those goals.
For me just the idea that they are going to ask me how I am doing on your goal or how far I have come or whether I took that particular action I said I would, it just pushes me to do it.
So, there you have it.
This is my goal setting process. And I hope this help you a little if you are looking to make some change in your life and you want to go after what you want.
If you'd like to use this process to work on your goals I have a workbook to help you get started. You can get it for free on Kindle Unlimited or you can buy it here:
Next, in this goal series, I will share how I review my goals.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you, do you set goals and if yes, what is your process? Leave me a comment below and let's get the conversation started.