With the ringing in of the new year, it's time for that age old tradition - the New Year's Resolution. Some people will stand firm in their resolution while others will begin to waver after only a few weeks or days, and some people who know better won't even bother to make a resolution. I find, instead of a resolution, the beginning of the new year is a perfect time to (re)evaluate your goals for the upcoming year. Whether they are professional goals, personal goals, spiritual goals, health goals, etc., there are a few guidelines that goal setting should follow. I hope you find this helpful and I hope it helps you identify and stick to your plan for 2012.
Goals should be specific and well defined:
Making a very detailed, very specific goal makes it easier to see your goal as measurable and will be easier to hold yourself accountable for reaching it (more to come on accountability). For example, "Be a better person" is not an example of a specific goal. How will you know when you've reached this goal? Who is judging if you are "better?" You get the point. An example of a specific, measurable goal is something like "Create a portfolio of my work by March 1" or "Write at least one blog post a week for the next 3 months" or "Present a technical paper at the conference in February."
Goals should be realistic:
For most of us, "Reaching 1,000,000 Twitter followers," or "Inventing a time machine" or "Getting a job in an architectural firm" just are not realistic goals. The goal you set should be something that is attainable within a reasonable amount of time. For example, "Start a blog by January 31," "Applying for graduate school for fall entry" and "Run the NYC Marathon" are all measurable and achievable.
Goals should have a specific deadline:
If you are an expert procrastinator like me, then you'll see the value of this rule. If I hadn't set the goal of writing the "Goal Setting Blogpost" by New Year's Eve, it's likely it wouldn't have happened... Giving yourself a deadline, and sticking to it, is essential to the pursuit and achievement of your goals. Please do not underestimate how important this is!
Identify milestones and potential obstacles to your goals:
For larger goals, it may be necessary to break down your overarching goal into smaller, easier to achieve pieces, all following the rules herein, of course. "Opening a coffee shop by June" is a measurable, achievable goal, but in this case there are enough smaller steps to be addresses in order to reach the larger goal. For example, "Contact leasing agency by January 15," "Write a business plan by February 1," "Register business name by April 1" and so on. Breaking the final goal into smaller, measurable steps makes it easier to monitor your progress. At the same time, you should also be paying attention for potential obstacles or pitfalls that may get between you and your ultimate goal.
Hold yourself ACCOUNTABLE for reaching goals:
THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! Write down your goals, by hand. Keep them someplace you will see them EVERYDAY - on the fridge, in your wallet or purse, in your car, etc. Keep them someplace you will see them often so they stay on your mind and don't get pushed aside by daily minutia. Track the progress you make and make sure you stick to your deadlines.
With the new year comes new opportunities. If you've had ideas or interests that you've been pushing aside for a while, now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and make a solid plan for 2012. Good luck and Happy New Year!