The New Year invites reflection and bold dreams. Some people make resolutions, others sketch out their goals for the year. Yet others just plunge into the new year without a vision or a plan.
If you find resolutions hard to keep, and the goals you write for the new year rarely get achieved, I invite you to take a different approach this 2019 and try this method instead.
Create a cozy, inspiring ambience.
Planning, for some, can be an annoying task. I love planning, partly because it’s such a creative process and partly because I consider it my “me” time and treat it as such. Try these tips to help ease your way into a planning session, and start liking them a bit more.
Find a quiet, cozy space where you feel at ease (the best spot in front of the fireplace, your veranda, your favorite café).
Grab your favorite notebook or journal (or your computer if you prefer to work digitally).
Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee (or pour yourself your favorite drink! I’ve been known to do this exercise in the evening, by the fireplace, with a glass of wine!)
Turn off all interruptions (phone, notifications).
If you’d like, invite a friend to do the exercise with you.
Start messy and dreamy.
Grab a big piece of paper and let your mind wander. Where would you like to be at the end of 2019? How would you want your life to look like? What accomplishments would make you look back and feel proud and happy? Jot them all down in no particular order on the page.
You can use categories to prompt your thinking around different areas of your life, such as professional and personal (you, your relationships), or others such as learning, financial, creativity, mindset or travelling goals.
At this stage try to avoid reality checks. Don’t worry about the how. Ignore any thoughts that suggest that this is too ambitious, or unachievable, just tell yourself that we’ll tackle that later on.
Find the themes and connections around everything you wrote down. You can organize your goals by category and/or by hierarchy:
Categories: Classify your goals into categories and subcategories that work for you. For example, professional (individual goals, team goals , financial goals) and personal (mindset, training, relationships, travelling).
Hierarchy: You might realize that some smaller goals contribute to - or are stepping stones towards- a higher level goal. For example, increasing followers on social media feeds into your higher level goal of increasing sales. See if you can put them in a pyramid of goals that makes sense to you, like the one in the picture below.
Choose your home-runs
You might realize after tidying up that you have fewer goals, if many of them are related.
You might still end up with a very long list of independent goals, in different categories, and that’s fine too.
You might also realize that some of your high level goals are actually multi-year goals instead of single year goals. With this in mind, look at all your goals and think about which of these goals are the MOST important to you THIS year. If life gets in the way, and unforeseen things happen, which of these goals would you like to accomplish no matter what? Which would make you proudest or happiest?
Choose those goals to focus on. I normally like to choose 2-3 professional and 1-2 personal home-run goals for the year. You can still work on your other goals, of course, but these will be the focus of most of your attention and intention for the year.
Now rewrite these home-run goals in a more specific and countable way. For example, rewrite “Bring the company to the international level” to “Win two international contracts” . The latter is much more concrete. You will KNOW for sure when you have achieved it.
Make it doable
Ok, so it’s great to have a tidy set of related and organized goals, now what? How do you ensure you can achieve these?
This is where we drill down to find the activities and habits that support our goals.
In the beginning we talked about not worrying about the how. Well, here is where we start thinking about the how.
That doesn’t mean that we need to find all the answers right now. What we’ll do instead is just start exploring possible first steps that may lead us in the right direction and start building the opportunities we need to make our goals come to life.
For each home-run goal, write down at least 5 activities that you can do over this year that support that goal. You might realize some activities may support more than one of your goals.
As much as possible, make your activities specific and countable, as we did for our home-run goals. For example, instead of writing “Get more followers on social media”, say “By the end of 2019, reach 1500 followers on my preferred social media platform”. This will allow to KNOW exactly when you have you reached the goal, and then you’ll be able to celebrate and pat yourself and your team in the back!
Now turn to habits: is there a habit that you can develop this year that will help you achieve your goal(s)? For example, you may want to get into the habit of checking in with your team every Friday afternoon on progresses and challenges. Or create a habit of having two uninterrupted hours on Monday morning to focus on strategy. Or, in the personal category, start meditating 5 minutes per day.
Habits are game-changers. We never forget to do habits (when’s the last time you forgot to brush your teeth?). Habits take almost no energy or willpower once we’ve set them in place. If you for any reason “skip” a day of something that is a habit, you’ll fall right back into doing it the day after, almost effortlessly.
So if you can develop one or two habits that will help you reach your goals this year, you have much better chances of achieving them!
That’s it! You’ve finished your 2019 Yearly Plan! Now go calendarize your activities and habits and remember to celebrate every time you complete one!
Now it’s your turn: what other useful tips or tricks do you have to plan and achieve goals? Please share in the comments!
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