How to Set Goals You Will Accomplish

How to Set Goals You’ll Actually Accomplish

This is a great time of year to start your goal setting process. There is a subtle step that seems to work best at this stage. I call it: "More First, then Less."

At this point in the goal setting process, it is important to open up your mind before you narrow your focus. There are two distinct steps here and if you get them out of order, or if they blur together, the results are not as optimal.

The idea is to take time now to gather your list of potential big goals for next year. Some people worry that they will not be able to accomplish all of their goals so they do not want to make lists of things that may not come to pass. There certainly is a process of refining your list and focusing on just essential items, but that step comes next. For now, it is time to write your ideas and goals down, listen to your team, dream big and capture as many ideas as you possibly can.

The process of opening up to a broader list is healthy. It allows you to collect issues that may be worrying you, challenges that need to be addressed. It also allows you to identify things that perhaps other people on your team can focus on for you. If you skip this step, you miss out on a broader sense of what you are trying to accomplish. You need to see wide and far. Then you can pick your spot.

Avoid eliminating items too soon. One mistake we can make is trying to simplify while we are trying to "listen" for important things. Making lists of important things, taking notes, writing in your journal and just capturing ideas in general is always good. You may have an idea or goal that is possibly best accomplished by someone else. Write it down, so that you can capture it. Shortening your personal list comes later.

One of my favorite books is The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. In the book, Leo gives such a fantastic framework for 1) identifying the essential, and 2) eliminating the rest. It is one of the most powerful concepts for success. As I get closer to the new year, I will go through a process of refining and eliminating, but, at this point, it is time to take it all in, listen, reflect and welcome "more."

If you can get comfortable building a broad set of ideas and goals for the new year, you will be able to spend some weeks thinking about them and evaluating them. I often see patterns in what I believe needs to be accomplished next. By widening my viewpoint at this step, I can combine some ideas and more effectively prioritize. I am also able to see larger goals and how they may fit into what I refer to as an “8 Quarter Roadmap”, or “Next Five Octobers” (60 Months/5 Years). I love the process of generating new ideas, working with smart people to design them for success and ultimately weaving them into my own personal set of goals for the new year.

Have fun at this stage of building your goal list. The more open-minded and free your thinking is right now, the better your results will be. The "focus" stage of prioritizing will be here soon enough.