An insightful adage asserts that ‘when you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.
New Years’ Resolutions or Transformational Goals?
In just about two weeks, we will be transitioning into 2019. Are you ready to set your career and leadership goals in motion and plan for an excellent year ahead?
Now, we are all guilty of, at one point in our lives, creating new years’ resolutions; eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more, join Toastmasters, spend more time with the family and the list goes on. We may even have neatly stacked a list of resolutions on bright post-stickers and placed them next to our mirrors, refrigerator door or car visor where we can easily see them and be reminded to take action. I concur with making an effort to improving our lives every new year. But instead of resolutions, why not plan the year ahead with SMART goals that are sustainable? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Specific. It is the end of the year but not too late to begin developing and clarifying your professional goals for 2019. I would like to help you work towards defining and attaining your goals for the new year with five simple but practical tips.
Tip number 1: Define and clarify your goals. They should be in line with your values and your purpose. So, before you begin to jot down what you would like to achieve in the new year, reflect on what is most important to you, where your fundamental values lie and bind them with what your life purpose is. If you have not figured it out yet, you are not alone. It may sound simplistic, but it is necessary to define your ‘mission’ in a purpose driven life to go after your career goals. Several exercises can help you identify your life purpose. My favourite one is dubbed ‘childhood dreams’ and can be found via this link: http://goo.gl/AyGKeD. As you begin to develop your goals, ask yourself, what is my career mission? What do I really love to do that I would like to augment? Then write (not type) them down. Neuroscientists have confirmed that the process of jotting down goals results in a higher chance of remembering and acting on them- the process of encoding. The best advice I have seen this year that I am currently utilizing with my executive clients are one-minute goals based on literature by Spencer Jonson and Kenneth Blanchard. They assert that goals should be articulated in such a way that they can be read in just one minute for easy review. The book is available on amazon via this link: http://goo.gl/rD1pTM. If your list has 10 goals, they should be read in 10 minutes. Because there is power in clarity, it is imperative to be specific about what you would like to achieve. The big question that you should ask yourself at this stage is, ‘What do I really want to achieve?’ One of my top three goals for 2019 is to achieve better time management. My response would thus read as follows: I would like to develop improved time management skills in order to spend more quality time with my family. My goal is specific.
Tip number 2: Dissect and prioritize your goals. Dividing your goals into more manageable chunks is an ideal process in monitoring your progress. It is critical to dissect your goals into short, mid and long-term goals. What are your short-term goals, where do you see yourself in 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year? Or if you are planning for the longer term, where do you see yourself in 2, 5, 10 years? Then work on prioritizing them. From the list that you just created, which is the most important goal for you and why? List the goals in order of priority and circle the top three with the corresponding numbers. Once you have prioritized your goals, select the top 3 that you will embark on working on in the new year. Think achievable. My second goal for the new year: I would like to learn a new skill to enhance an upward career trajectory. I am a voracious continuous learner and have already signed up for an online course working towards attaining this goal. It is my second goal.
Tip number 3: Engage an accountability partner. Before moving on to creating an action plan, there is one person or more that you need to identify. An accountability partner: This person is valuable in supporting your journey towards achieving your aspirations. Be deliberate when selecting your accountability partner/s. They will play various specific roles including cheerleader, advocate, sounding board, confidant, mentor, drill sergeant or coach. Because your accountability partner will help to hold you accountable to your commitments, this person or persons should be trustworthy and reliable. At this point, you are ready to put your action plan and resources together and begin working on specific activities one at a time. Think, Time-specific. My 3rd and final goal for the year: I would like to read at least one book every month to enhance my social networks. I have just moved to a new country and would like to meet new people and expand my network. This will entail joining a book club where I can meet this goal.
Tip number 4: The next step is the thorough-going process of developing an action plan and scheduling your activities. Now that you have clarified your goals, create an action plan to drive your related activities and set timelines for each action. I realize that in coaching, it is necessary to think outside of the box, consequently, I do not use the same modus operandi for all my clients because, ‘one size does not fit all’. Accordingly, I expect that readers of this article will use a favourite app to schedule their activities. My top scheduler is Google calendar. I set all my personal and private reminders in G-calendar. It is simple and easy to use and works very well for me. Whenever my alerts go off, I stop whatever I am doing to complete a scheduled task before returning to the previous undertaking. But because life happens, I am not anal about it. When I am unable to complete a scheduled task- for instance if I am 30,000 feet above sea level and need to fold laundry, I happily dismiss the reminder (smiling). What works for you? Mind tools https://www.mindtools.com/, my number 1 go-to, wrote an article about effective scheduling which you can find here: http://goo.gl/6jC261. Action planning should be about aligning your activities with your desired outcome. Think, relevant.
Tip number 5: Review your activities. Most experts recommend quarterly check-ins but if this does not work for you, determine how often you would like to monitor your progress. I happened upon an incredible list of tools for monitoring progress which can be accessed here: http://goo.gl/1hoiGQ. My top favourite is Asana for its user friendliness. Working towards attaining goals can seem like a moving target and if you feel the need to revise your goals along the way, go ahead and do it. It is the SMART thing to do. For expatriate folks like me who lead transient lives, this is not unusual. Change of geographic location might set you off course but quickly redefining the activities around your goals will be critical in attaining them within the specified timeline. Top tip! Make sure that your goals are not cast in granite. However, do not lose focus, ensure that you maintain laser sight on the goal. If the goals you have listed so far are specific, you will find the reviewing process to be effortlessly measurable.
Are you ready? Think 80/20
The ability to attain your goals will be largely contingent upon your input. You can only get out as much as you put in, so you must work hard towards accomplishing your desired results. An incredible woman that I admire for her determination, achieved three very ambitious goals that she had set out in 2017 for 2018 and managed to attain all three. She had planned to teach herself photography, run a marathon and build a high school in her home country, Zambia. How did she manage to achieve this? She used 3 effective drivers; challenge (pushing yourself to do something seemingly impossible), courage dream BIG! and passion– the compelling force that brought you to setting your goals in the first place. She acknowledges that working towards attaining goals can be rocky at times but firmly believes that ‘if you stick with courage, passion, and challenge you will reach your goals’. You access some of her work here: https://www.evermoorephotography.com
Remember the 80/20 rule? Simply put, 20% of your activities towards getting your goals will account for 80% of your desired outcome.
Image credit: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 782220187