One of the great things about the new year is that it naturally provides everyone an opportunity to start fresh. New year, clean slate, new goals.
So how can you have success in reaching your goals?
Here is a list of things from my experience with goal setting and goal getting:
Set just a few goals each year. I set three to five. My experience has been that when I set too many goals, I do not have success. It is harder than you think to keep charging after a lot of different goals. Pick just a few and your success rate will improve.
Have fun. Set goals that will make you happy when you achieve them. The goals I have set that have been very personal and have a high, positive impact on my life, are the ones I stay excited about and achieve.
Forgive and forget. I see folks get hung up on a past goal that they did not achieve. It is like they cannot believe in themselves when they set a new goal because they have missed one in the past. You have to learn what you can from missed goals in the past, and then move on. Maybe you had too many goals, maybe you did not give yourself enough time, maybe you just didn't really want the goal. Learn, adapt and pick yourself up for the new goal.
Set goals that allow others to help you achieve them. A big goal that has a group behind it can be a fun thing. Having help can be key to bringing you through the low periods of the year. Seek out positive support, and ask people to tell you that you can do it. Sounds silly, but I do it.
Tune out. Don't share your goals with too many people. This may sound contrary to #4 above, but the idea here is to be focused and only share your goals with the people who will believe in you and can help you stay positive. Some folks just won't get excited for you. Many people know you from your past and may not believe you can do big things. So leave them out of the process. If you try and convince negative people that you can reach a particular goal then you will just waste energy and time. You need that energy and time to work on positive steps toward your goal.
Write them down. This one is on all the lists of goal setting, but it is truly needed. I try and convert my goals to some number so that I can just write three to five numbers on my whiteboard and then I leave it there all year. I also write them on a small card and put it in my wallet. For some reason, I like to see them in my own handwriting.
Find the real number. It takes me a while to set goals. I have to search for the one true number that is the actual thing that influences the goal the most. I think this is the reason most people do not make their goals. They set the wrong thing as the target and then just get frustrated when it does not happen. Example: Rather than setting a sales target in a dollar amount, I will set a goal to hire and train a certain number of great sales people. I then work into account all the things that have to be in place for the sales people to be successful, and then what the sales performance will be. This can take months. But when I really dig into a big goal, I can usually uncover the one key metric that will make all the others work. Then I write that down and laser in on it.
As our company has grown you might think that the number of my goals would increase. Actually, I’ve focused my goal setting on less and less. I have a funny list of goals from when I was 30. I had this long list of 20 things I wanted to accomplish. Now we have over 700 people at Benefitfocus, and I set just a few goals each year. Sometimes just one goal. But I spend a ton of time uncovering the few things that can drive everything else. The power of less is fantastic.
A note about timeframes: I read once that the most successful people think and plan in a five year timeframe. Anything less was not enough time to do big things, anything longer than five years, the world changes so much that the goal may be irrelevant. When I read that, I began to make my primary goals into five year timeframes. I continue to do this while also setting annual goals. I work to make my annual goal steps along the way to the five year goal. I start in November and by the end of December I have my new goals for the new year. I love the process, and get excited about it every year. I review my five year goals all the time. I keep just a few. It is a process of blending the annual goals and the five year goals. Over time it has just become part of who I am.
Please allow me to encourage you today. You can achieve your goals. You can do more than people think you can. Spend some time shortening your list, and then focus on that one big goal. You can do it!