By now, almost everyone is back at work after enjoying a holiday break. Quite possibly, we reflected on last year’s successes and wondered why we didn’t get everything we set out to achieve. If you’re one of the lucky ones who achieved all her/his goals, you might be wondering what’s next.
Developing greater self-awareness, achieving that dream promotion, finding your ideal career, securing that Board position, starting or completing an academic course, improving your health and wellbeing, spending more quality time with your family, developing new skills and capabilities…. These are some examples of a holistic approach to setting goals and making 2018 your best year yet!
In this newsletter edition, we focus on expanding on our previous article about the Science of achieving goals successfully and give you “six rules” to get your mind ready, make the commitment, stay motivated, handle setbacks and set you up for success right from the outset.
Rule 1: Make Sure You Want It
You can only commit to a goal when it is something that you really want, not somebody else. Ask yourself if this idea is yours or somebody else’s (thinking that you “should” achieve a certain goal might be a red flag). Make sure the goal is aligned with your values, other factors in your life and long-term plans. Also, ask yourself if the goal motivates and invigorates you. And make them positive (i.e. avoid framing them as something you should stop)
Rule 2: Spend Time Making Them SMART
Don’t leave goal setting to the last minute and take time to think and express your goals the right way. If you don’t, you risk reacting to your current environment. Make them Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timebound. This will help you work out “how” to achieve your goals as you think through and plan for the necessary resources and actions to bring them to fruition. Here, it is important to develop detailed action plans for each goal.
Rule 3: Make Sure They Are Written Down
Our brains are designed to respond with more commitment and drive when we take the time to write it down. Therefore, writing down our goals is a simple yet powerful technique to help is achieve them. Many universities and organisations educate their new students/employees on the popular maxim: If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen. And as the anonymous quote says: “goals that are not written down are just wishes”.
Rule 4: Keep Them Top of Mind
You’ve done all the hard work described above and you have positively-framed, values-aligned, holistic SMART goals. You have written down (or typed) detailed action plans in a journal, Excel spreadsheets or work templates (many organisations have sophisticated Key Performance Indicator processes with useful templates). Great! However, to keep you on track and motivated it is important to keep your goals top of mind. You can use our Goals Matrix template to capture your “higher order goals” and keep them in your diary or above your desk as a daily reminder to focus your energy and attention on what really matters.
Rule 5: Keep Track of Progress
Make sure you monitor your progress regularly by reviewing your detailed Action Plans, say, on a weekly basis. This will help you assess what is working and what isn’t, and the corrective steps necessary. You may wish to use automatic reminders electronic devices for transactional activities (e.g., enrol in a specific course by a certain date) or repetitive tasks (e.g., go to the gym every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) to help free up your working memory for higher order cognitive activities such as learning. Keeping track of progress is also a strong motivation tool as you become excited and build confidence around the small successes already achieved.
Rule 6: Celebrate Achieved Milestones
When developing your Action Plans, make note of some milestones where you will reward yourself once achieved. Depending on your personality, you may give yourself a treat and celebrate, for instance, by enjoying a special meal with your family and/or friends when being accepted into your University of choice. Or you may decide to pay it forward and perform an act of kindness, which create positive emotions in you and in others.
This is a terrific time to take stock of your life and decide what you want to achieve in 2018 and beyond. Make 2018 your best year yet by following these six rules when setting your goals:
1. Make sure you want it
2. Spend time making them SMART
3. Make sure they are written down
4. Keep them top of mind
5. Keep track of progress
6. Celebrate achieved milestones
If you (or your team) need help clarifying your organisational, career or life goals, or have identified development needs to achieve them, please contact us. We would be delighted to help you make 2018 your best year yet.
Wishing you continued growth,