Today is the last day of the 2015. New gym memberships will be registered. Bold 11 p.m. declarations will be made. Regretful make out sessions will occur in hallways and guest bedrooms all over.
Hopefully after the dust has settled and pragmatism sets in we can really focus on where we are and where we’re going.
We can stop taking ourselves so seriously. We can focus on giving more. We can inspire others by being the best version of ourselves. We can open our eyes and see the opportunities in front of us should we choose to pursue them.
And finally, we can plan our work and work our plans.
But where should we begin?
I’ll let you in on my approach to accomplish my goals in 2016 and if you like, you can share yours, too.
(A) Reflect and analyze
When talking about goals we often lead with what we’re going to do moving forward. That’s not wrong, but I think planning properly for the future actually begins with looking backwards. Not to be regretful, but to see what worked and what didn’t work.
At the end of this year, I carefully evaluated how I did last year. What went wrong and why? What could I have done better and how?
Then I’m going to bake all that into my plans for this year.
(B) Cut out the clutter
In a similarly counter-intuitive way, it’s easy to add action items to our list first.
“I’m going to go to the gym more. I’m going to try to increase my revenue. I’m going to spend more time with people I love”.
But before adding to the overwhelm of life, I’m going to try removing things first.
How about cutting out the junk from your diet? Cut back on spending. Avoid time spent with people that are a drain.
That way, not only do you have more free time, will power and energy to add new positive behaviors, you’re cutting out bad habits cluttering your mind.
(C) Set S.M.A.R.T goals
You may have heard of SMART goals before, maybe in a business context. It’s an extremely useful measuring stick to help you know if your goals are well-crafted.
“A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound”.
- Specific meaning that it should be simple and concise while including the what, why and how of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Measurable so you’ll know when you’ve reached your goal or when you’re lagging behind.
- Achievable so the bar is low enough that you can get over it, but high enough that it’s a challenge.
- Result-focused meaning that you’re measuring outcomes, not activities.
- Time-bound so there’s a sense of urgency and a due date attached.
Simple enough, right?
This year I’m going to be running all my goals through this filter to make sure they’re up to snuff.
(D) Start so small you can’t fail
Now how should we go about actually achieving these S.M.A.R.T goals?
There’s a strategy that worked really well for me this year. I start with the smallest possible version of a goal and build towards it. Nothing revolutionary. However, it prevents the false starts that often come with goal setting. More importantly, the smaller the resistance is at the onset, the easier it is to turn it into a sustainable habit.
For example, my goal was to get to 50 push ups and 50 crunches per day by the end of the year. Instead of starting with 50 a day, I approached it by starting out with 5 per day. Then it increased to 7 and 10 and so on.
I’m looking forward to trying this method with other goals in 2016.
More than anything, goal setting for next year and beyond is all about the long game. It’s about realizing that you have time, but if you have big goals then you’ve got to start like, yesterday. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Just focus on getting closer to reaching your goal each and every day.
Ben Franklin said it best, “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man” — or woman…dammit Ben, it’s almost 2016.
Thanks for reading! If you have any methods for accomplishing your goals in 2016, share them in a response. Best wishes in the new year!
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