If you really want to accomplish things in 2018, forget the resolutions about things you don’t really want to do and take a run at setting some really good goals around things you do!
Before the holidays we talked about the value of creating a personal vision statement for your life. Going through this process is a great way to figure out which big goals (at work and/or in your personal life) really matter to you.
Now, I’ve always been a list-making, get-things-done kind of guy. And while I’ve always prided myself on being a big thinker with lots of ideas and vision, my lists often focus on tasks that need to be done today or during this week and not the bigger ideas or goals.
It’s easy to get swept into the rhythm of daily life to the point that we’re dealing with immediacy and not really thinking long term or big picture. It can be satisfying to finish a bunch of stuff, but are you achieving your vision?
If we can focus on breaking down the big audacious goals into measured tasks, we can stay on track to achieve them. As we discussed at the end of last year, once we master daily tasks, we can achieve big goals. This really works!
In the midst of all the hard work of launching and then, for the last couple years, running Padraig Coaching & Consulting, I wanted to be able to reach people who would benefit from our help, but who aren’t able to afford our one-to-one coaching or leadership workshops.
I talked about my ideas for a long time. Sometimes with myself, sometimes with other people — thinking if I talk about it, I’ll have to get it done. That didn’t work. I knew in my mind where I wanted us to be, but I wasn’t taking time to figure out the steps to get there. It took effort and creative scheduling at times, but I was able to carve out time to figure out what to do and start executing the steps to get things underway.
I’m happy to report that now, just after celebrating the fifth anniversary of my business, we’re in the process of creating online courses to bring leadership skills to more people.
It’s been exhilarating to figure out that sometimes what seems urgent isn’t really important and to be so close to achieving something that really matters to me.
Why goal setting is important
Author Lewis Carroll (he of the Cheshire cat and Alice in Wonderland), is credited for the saying: “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” While we can meander and enjoy the view or even enjoy the journey, we might also never make it to the destinations that really matter.
If your goal is to enjoy the journey (and hey, that’s a laudable goal too) then perhaps a well-drawn map isn’t needed. But, if at least part of your goal is to get to a specific destination or two, then it helps to have a roadmap to guide the adventure – a little strategy to make sure we aren’t lost and adrift.
Writing down goals makes them a priority. Seeing goals or dreams written out actually increases the odds that we’ll accomplish them. According to psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, people are 42 percent more likely to do things they put in writing!
Antoine de Saint-Exuperay
Why goal setting has a bad rap
I think many of us have negative associations with goal setting because we treat planning and goal setting like it’s an end in itself. Then at the end of the year, we look at that list of goals or resolutions and wonder why we didn’t accomplish as much as we wanted.
When goal setting becomes a negative enforcer it’s pretty difficult to get excited about embarking on change. We’ve seen too many times how we set goals we never achieve, even if we try again every year.
How can this year be different?
If you change the dynamic, the way you interact will change. Rather than announcing some nebulous, albeit glorious business and career goals or listing big life changes to implement, it’s time to get specific.
The first thing you need to do after brainstorming is write out your goals. Prioritize them, and make sure they’re achievable.
For example, solving the homeless problem is pretty broad. Planning to volunteer with your coworkers at a shelter is something tangible. The more specific you are with goal setting, the more achievable the goals will likely be.
Second, do a little planning. Figure out how to conquer your goal in steps and stages. Instead of running headlong to hopefully achieving something, we need to make a plan to navigate the way there.
Mapping out the route will get you to any destination efficiently! Plus, having a plan to execute makes us more accountable. Dedicating time out of your week towards achieving a step toward the goal will help ensure the weeks don’t slip by!
Third, as you undertake the manageable tasks, track your progress. It is very motivating; achieving milestones along the way propels us forward. It takes us back to scratching things off our list. If our weekly or daily lists include one item from our big goal plan, we feel victorious AND we make progress on the important things.
We’re more likely to be successful if we set goals that are measurable, with deliverables or clearly defined steps to keep us actively working and moving forward. You might even want to let others know what you’re up to because feeling accountable to others can be another wonderful motivator.
As with life, another thing that is essential is the right attitude. Seeking perfection often prevents progress. Wooo boy, do I know that, and yet how often do I momentarily forget it.
One of the big solutions is… GET STARTED. It’s difficult to get things absolutely right, but if we get started we can always improve the finished product later because, at least, the product will be finished. Right?
And finally, each time you set out to make a to-do list, whether that’s daily or weekly, take a moment to look at your big goals and consider what you’ve accomplished and what remains.
Figure out what’s next, today, to get things done.
When you can accomplish a series of short-term goals you’ll feel inspired to persevere for the long-term (and it might not seem too long or impossible when it’s broken down!).
So my Coach’s Question for you today, as we start 2018:
What will life look like at the end of the year if you achieve your big audacious goals?