The beginning of every new year provides the opportunity for us to evaluate our lives, and do a check-in and level set to see where we are at in life. Had a fantastic year? Then it’s time to celebrate and keep the momentum going! Had a tough year, one that you’d love to close the chapter on and leave behind?
January 1 can hold strong power, like a Reset button, to allow you to do that and start over. However your year has been, the beginning of a new year can be a powerful catalyst for positive growth and change for the future, if you invest the time and energy into goal setting and planning. It can also help set the overall tone for your approach over the next 12 months and beyond.
Often during this time of year, you hear, “time to set those New Year’s resolutions!”. I’ve never been a fan of the term “resolution”. Maybe because I’ve struggled with all the resolutions from friends, family and clients who were always the same, giving up some bad habit, like quitting cigarettes, but something that always ends in failure, or even further regression from the original resolution (like gaining 20 pounds instead of losing them). The problem I’ve found with resolutions is that if you don’t have solid goals and plans in place to support those declarations, they inevitably end in failure. For example, I can make a resolution that I want to participate in some intense physical endurance challenge this year, however if I don’t actually set performance goals and build the training plan and schedule in place necessary to meet those goals, then in the end I won’t finish, or worse, could injure myself in the process.
Instead I follow (and help my clients to do so as well) the practice of goal setting at the beginning of each year, including building action plans to support reaching those goals. Putting specific and date-driven goals in place provides you with tangible finish lines and actual measurements for success. And when you throw in the practice of setting smaller milestones and checkpoints along the way, you give yourself the extra accountability necessary to ensure you are staying on the path towards your goal throughout the year.
Here’s my recommended formula for New Year’s goal setting:
Reflect on your accomplishments for the previous year. Before you dig into looking towards the future, it’s important to take the time to reflect on what you achieved in the past. Did you succeed in meeting (or even exceeding) your goals from the previous year? What worked and what didn’t? If you didn’t achieve something you set out to do, is it something you still want to completed in the future or it’s no longer a priority to you? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What are you most grateful for in life at this moment in time? Celebrating your victories is important, but when you also enter a positive state of joy and gratitude from your past/current successes and blessings, you are even more inspired to set powerful goals for the future.
Set BIG goals. Notice I didn’t say to necessarily set a LOT of goals, but set BIG ones. Think quality versus quantity. These are dream goals, ones that while they will push you outside of your comfort zone, you will feel amazing and your best self when you accomplish them. Ones that when you are on the other side reflecting back (hopefully at the end of the year!), you say to yourself, “I can’t believe I did that!” Oh, but you did! The reason setting goals at this level is important is that they help you learn and grow in ways that transform you ultimately into the best version of yourself. The magic happens just outside of your comfort zone! Now if you’re someone that’s accustomed to setting completely realistic and doable goals, here’s a great way to get to the dream goal state. Make a first pass at your goals, and then ask yourself, “Are these completely doable in your current environment and completing them shouldn’t be challenging?” If the answer is, “Yes,” then they’re not BIG goals. They’re simply a to-do, task list for the year. You may still want and need to accomplish them, and you may even feel a sense of satisfaction when they’re done, but they won’t help your personal growth and development. Take each of those goals and determine how you can take them to the next level, or “up your game” as I have encouraged my teammates in the past.
Determine how you will measure the success of your goal. What benchmarks will you use to evaluate that you’ve reached your goal? How will you know when you’ve completed it? How do you expect to feel when you’re done? Defining these in the beginning before you start will help you better measure successful completion based on your standards and not someone else’s.
Build a schedule and plan for achieving your goal. Breaking down your goal into smaller milestones helps ensure you are making forward progress and allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment along the way. Once you’ve got the stepping stones towards your goal defined, schedule target completion dates for them on your calendar with reminders, and treat them as you would other important deadlines, meetings, or appointments. There are many digital solutions you can use as a scheduling tool to help you with this.
Determine what resources and tools you will need to support accomplishing this goal. Do an assessment of what your current support system looks like (people, education, items) and identify what you will need to have in place to help you reach your goal, and any gaps. For the gaps, what new and additional people or things will you need to access and leverage in order to achieve your goals? Those will need to be baked into your plans and schedule as well to ensure you have all of the pieces in place at the right time to reach your goals.
Evaluate your current habits and beliefs. Do your current regular habits and beliefs support or conflict with your new goals? Are there any habits you need to change or add to your daily routine to support your goals? Do you have any existing beliefs that may prevent you from reaching your goal, that make you think “I can’t do that” when in your heart you know you can? Our minds are powerful forces that can be key influencers in determining whether or not we successfully complete something, even physical challenges. Take the time at the start to do the internal work to address limiting beliefs you have. Recognizing those obstacles from the start are critical to goal completion, and will help save you time and energy in the future as you keep them on your radar moving forward.
Following these steps at the beginning of goal setting and throughout the course of the year with regular check-ins can help set you up better for successfully reaching them. Know that changes can happen in life during the year that may cause you to change and course correct your goals, and that is okay. You may even develop brand new goals throughout the year. That’s why having the checkpoints, support system, and accountability in place is important to allow you to adapt and modify your goals as needed to support your ever-changing life.
I hope these tips will help you to find motivation to set your plan this year or simply organise your currently goal better and more effectively. I would love to help you setting a plan together with you for your lifestyle goals, so please contact me for tips or suggestion.
I wish you all a healthy, successful and peaceful 2018 and of course fulfilled with a great plan for your goals.
Adriano dos Santos