Happy New Year. Now let’s set some goals

It’s resolution time. Perhaps this year you are not feeling exactly pumped. Maybe you are looking back and recall starting the last year in much the same way; a few goals here and there feeling motivated and determined but somewhere down the road, you lost your mojo and life got in the way. Before you knew it, the year had ended and here you are again with some of those same goals back on the list. In spite of this you know there is so much more you have to offer, so much more you can do, so much more you can become. Well don’t hold back, let’s get to work and get the the year off on the right track.

What you need to do is look at your goals with a new lens and approach them a little differently. For some people this process is a snap and they can quickly sort out what they want to accomplish and get on with it but sometimes, it won’t hurt to get a fresh perspective.

5 Things to consider when setting your goals this year:

1 – Habits vs Goals:

When planning your year, you will typically list out things you will like to accomplish or change. When doing this, do separate the habits (routines you want to repeat on a regular schedule) from goals (a desired measurable outcome). For example, a habit will be to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day whereas a goal will be to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year.

Take a close look at your goals and think about the habits you need to have or change in order to achieve them and add those to the list. Keep in mind that goals are a good way to keep an eye on where you want to go, but the right habits are what will take you there.

As you go through this exercise remember that there are things that you can only influence but not control so stay focused on the areas you can influence and/or control. Setting goals for outcomes you cannot control can either limit you in your ambitions or frustrate you. For example, you cannot control getting a 10% raise from your boss but you can influence it. You also cannot control whether the next 10 clients you make a pitch to will convert but you can influence the outcome.  So with that in mind Below is a sample worksheet for reference. You can create one to help you with your planning..

TargetHabit or Goal?Can I influence the OutcomeCan I control the outcomeArea
Write 3 new things I am grateful for each dayHabitYesYesPersonal
Journal about a positive experience that happened each dayHabitYesYesPersonal
Do 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise in the morningHabitYesYesHealth
Save 10% of all I earn (Note: You can set up a process to automatically deduct 10% of your income into a 401k investment account or into a savings account if that is not available to you)GoalYesYesFinance
Generate 20% profit from investments (Note: For this goal you can set up a process e.g identify an index fund and each paycheck you transfer a certain amount of money into e.t.c)GoalYesNoFinance

2 – Plan and track your habits:

For the new habits you have identified, prioritize them. It is usually best to focus on one habit at a time for at least 21 days before starting on another, however if the habit is a mini habit, you can stack up to 3 but not more otherwise you might affect your focus. Also make sure you are clear on what you will be doing and when. For example, if you want to develop a new habit of working out for 15 minutes each morning, spend a little time to identify what you will be doing for the 15 minutes each morning and what time you will actually set aside to do your workout. You need to be clear and consistent.

3 – For goals that don’t require new habits, create a system or a plan of action:

For the items on your list that don’t need a new habit, make sure you have a system in place or a clear plan. For example, if you want to save 10% of your income, many companies allow you to do a direct deposit. You can take advantage of that and have the 10% deposited into your savings before you get the balance of your check to spend. That will be a system that you don’t have to actively maintain. If it is something that requires a plan such as a family vacation, then schedule some actions and milestones that will help you meet your goal.

4 – Find your motivation:

When you want to change your life, going at it alone is not easy. You will go to battle with yourself. Your mind will become the enemy trying to talk you out of the changes you are trying to make because new habits sometimes feel inconvenient and uncomfortable.

It is very important that you limit input from any sources that will only magnify your mental challenge. Instead, surround yourself with only those people, things and activities that will keep you motivated and help you stay on course.  If you do fail to meet a target, don’t give up, just pick back up and continue. Consistency is key so stay with it and you will find yourself getting better and better.

5 – Leverage tools to help you stay on track:

There are so many great tools on phones and on the web to help you stay on top of your goals and habits. Below are 3 of some of my favorites. These are available both on the web and as an app. They also can support both goals and habit tracking:

  • Goals on Track: This site is very rich with features that will help with habits and goals. One of my favorite things are the templates that can help with planning your goals.
  • Coach.me: This is another really good site/app to use to track goals. What I like most about it is that it has a community factor. You can join communities of people who share the same goal and encourage each other.
  • Goals Wizard by Brian Tracy: I have read some of Brian Tracy’s books and really loved them so when I learned he had a goals app, I jumped on it. At first look the app felt a bit overwhelming with a lot of good information but it has some really helpful tips and processes. If you choose to go with this app and find it a bit intimidating, you should consider doing your initial setup via the web. The web interface can be easier to navigate for some. overall, I do like the app.

Now that you are armed with hopefully some information to help with your goal setting process this year, do revisit, review and revise the plan to improve it as often as you need to. As you hit milestones, whether it is sticking with your new habit(s) for 21 days or it is effectively staying true to a system you set up for 30 days, celebrate your success. Remember that the reason some people start the year with momentum and then fall off the wagon of change is either because they are not taking the right actions OR they are not getting enough motivation to stay the course.

Don’t try to fix too many things all at once. It is better to start one thing and finish it than to start many things and finish none so pace yourself and limit the number of commitments you make to yourself. The objective is to see your commitment to the end. It is not a destination, it is a journey. Think big but start small.

You simply need to Plan. Prepare. Set Up and Take Action!

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