My my my, what a year 2017 has been! I think many of you are in the same camp of thought about putting 2017 to bed and starting fresh in 2018. Personally, this year had many positives that I am thankful for but at the same time, new stressors and hard situations that I did not plan crept into my life. But that’s life and those challenges make us not only stronger but wiser.
December is normally a slow month for most people work wise so it’s a great time to set aside time to reflect on the past year and start planning your goals for 2018. Here are some tips to get you started and organized in your goal setting to make the most of the year to come.
- Make a EOY (end of year) date with yourself
- For me, this normally means blocking off a few hours to go to a coffee shop for alone time. It can be very difficult to have those deep thinking sessions at home or surrounded by distractions. I find that disconnecting for a bit in a quiet, non-distracting place allows me to be more productive. Be sure to bring last year’s planning and any recurring goal setting notes from the current year to review.
- Evaluate last year’s goals and gain insights
- Reflecting on the goals you wrote last year and seeing what worked and what didn’t work, and why, is super important way to gauge your starting point for upcoming goals. It can be very insightful to learn the why behind why some goals worked and others didn’t because the root will most likely come back to play in future goals. For example, I had a recurring goal of having a morning routine but it just never happened. I’d have a few days of success but then fell out of routine. The reason why it wasn’t working was due to several reasons but uncovering those reasons allowed me to figure out how to be successful in the future with this goal.
- Brain dump all your goals and ideas
- Sometimes it can be hard to even start with what goal(s) you want to pursue. Set a timer and for 5 minutes, just write any goals or things that are important to you on a piece of paper. Once you have that list, go back and star the top ones that would make the most positive impact in your life. You can always go back and pick different ones but this will give you a good starting place.
- Use the lens of “When I am 80…”
- While there is nothing wrong with the goal “I want to lose 5 lbs,” try to approach your goal setting by thinking about what your 80 year old self would think about this goal. When you’re 80, would you look back and believe it was important to spend a lot of time, energy and stress losing those 5 lbs? Mostly likely not but that’s for you to judge. I encourage you to pursue goals that improve your life and are something you’d be proud to leave behind as a legacy to your family.
- Start big and broad and then get small and detailed
- Begin by writing the big goal – I will run a marathon. Next, write out everything you can think of that will lead you to achieving that goal, i.e. research training plan, schedule runs on my calenard, sign up for race, invest in new shoes, join running club, etc. You want to be as detailed as possible. You can even take each of these mini steps and break them into even smaller steps. The idea is to break this goal down as small as possible because day to day, you will need to take a little bit of action toward your goal. The big goal can be overwhelming but you can manage the small steps which lead to achieving your goal.
- Revisit your goals often and keep them top of mind
- This tip is what can make or break whether or not you achieve your goals. If your goals reside in a notebook that you tuck away in your desk and you never look at them, I doubt you will stay on track to achieve those goals. (GUILTY RIGHT HERE) Maybe this means you take a picture with your phone so you have it with you often or maybe keep a shortlist in a note keeping app on your phone. Vision boards also work well as a good visual reminder of what you are trying to achieve in a world of distractions. I would also suggest doing a end of month/month prep session to see 1. How this past month went and what progress you made and 2. What tasks can you add to your calendar or plan out for the coming month to work toward your goals?
- Put in the work
- At the end of the day, just writing a goal doesn’t make it magically come to life. As any successful person and they will tell you that it isn’t easy and you just have to take action and get busy. You don’t need the perfect notebook, the perfect pen or perfect life with loads of “free time” to make it happen. We all lead busy lives with a lot of responsibilities which allow us to give excuses as to why we haven’t finished something yet. (Again, GUILTY!) But as the saying goes, you make time for what is important to you. We want to make it more complicated when it comes to being successful but it’s actually simple, just do the work.
One last piece of advice I’ll leave with you today as you begin planning for 2018 is to remember – PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION. There will never be a perfect time to get your hands dirty. You may come up short on your task lists but hey, you did the work and you got yourself closer. The idea of perfection can freeze us from taking any action. Forget perfection and just start, be the creator you are meant to be!