A new year typically means new goals; people rush to take stock of what they want to accomplish in the new year. But before we set new goals for 2018, we should take some time to reflect on what happened the year before. How was 2017 for you? Did you achieve your goals? Did you fulfill your aspirations in your career or personal life? If these questions are negative, then maybe you need a new goal-setting structure that will actually work. Here are five steps to achieve your goals in 2018.
1. Get clarity on your personal foundation
Setting big goals is pointless if you don’t have a strong personal foundation. Think about it. If a building’s foundation is compromised or flawed, the building is not safe and will not stay strong. The same is true for your personal foundation.
Your personal foundation comes from four key elements:
- Vision: Where do want to be?
- Purpose: Why is this important?
- Mission: What are you going to do?
- Values: How will you act?
Clarity on these questions will not only give you direction, it will also provide you strength to keep moving forward when inevitable obstacles come your way. Before you set any goals for 2018, develop answers for your personal vision, purpose, mission and values.
2. Shorten your year
12 months is a long time. Many goals are destined to fail simply because the year is too long. Procrastination and complacency can kick in if the goal line is too far away. Changes in your life can disrupt your progress or make your initial goals seem less important than when you first set them. To overcome these obstacles, try making quarterly goals to bring the goal line closer and to increase your ability to focus on the outcome. Shortening the time frame not only allows you to readjust when changes in circumstance occur, it also allows you to get a fresh start each quarter and increase the number of goals you can accomplish over the course of a year.
3. Create process goals along with your outcome goals
Many of us have heard that SMART goals are the best kind of goals. SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. By way of example, let’s say you set a goal to find a new job by April 1, 2018. This goal meets the SMART criteria; it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. But this goal is not likely to be achieved on its own. It is just an outcome goal – something you hope to achieve in the end.
You also need the steps needed to accomplish the goal – process goals. Process goals provide the steps or behaviors that are necessary to achieve your wanted outcome. Adding process goals to your outcome goals will noticeably increase your chances of success. Using the same new job illustration, here are some examples of process goals:
- I will apply to 10 potential jobs every week.
- I will spend 30 minutes a day connecting with people on LinkedIn.
- I will attend four networking events in every month.
These process goals are powerful because you have more control over the process than the outcome. While outcomes can be affected by external conditions that are out of your control, you can direct the right actions and activities to reach your desired results. My clients who use this structure report a higher rate of success in achieving their goals.
4. Establish a weekly planning and review process
Schedule a weekly self-meeting to review your plan for the week ahead. Start by reading your personal vision, purpose, mission and value statements to will remind yourself of the big picture – where you want to go and why. Next, review your progress on your outcome and process goals for the quarter. Some goals can be evaluated with quantitative measures (i.e., number of contacts, days, dollars, etc.) but others are more subjective. Finally, schedule your goals. Transfer the action steps from your process goals to your calendar. If you set aside time each week to work on these priorities, you will increase your chances of getting them done. Many of my clients find it helpful to schedule recurring time slots each week to focus on their process goals. This way they do not become distracted by other tasks that will prevent them from working on their goals.
5. Find a good coach!
The entire goal-setting process is perfect for partnering with a coach. A good coach will help by asking questions that bring you clarity and focus. Your coach can spot weak areas or gaps in your process and help you explore options or possibilities that you hadn’t already considered. A coach can also add an essential component – accountability.
A new year brings a blank slate of new opportunities and using these five steps will increase your chances of achieving your 2018 goals. Try them and let the fun begin!