I absolutely love the start of a new year! A fresh start… clean slate… wide open horizons… Pick your metaphor of choice and embrace the energy of the new year with me for a minute.
Fast forward to late January and my motivation is waning. My guess is the same thing happens to you. In fact, statistics tell us that only 8% of us actually achieve the New Year resolutions we set!
Our resolutions break down because we fail to create a plan to achieve them. In fact, rather than creating resolutions, I create goals that are important to me for the coming year.
Goals vs. Resolutions
It might seem like semantics to set goals versus resolutions, but here is the subtle difference between the two:
A resolution by definition is “the act of determining.”
A goal by definition is “the end toward which effort is directed.”
Notice the distinction? When we resolve, we determine to do something. It’s a decision but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have defined how we will achieve this resolution. A goal is actually the result of an effort that we have directed. By its definition, a goal suggests that we must do something to accomplish it.
So, may I recommend that you take some time to turn your resolutions into goals for yourself, personally and professionally, this year?
As I reflected on the past year, what I discovered was that the goals that I built plans for, were the goals that I achieved. When I defined the steps necessary, when I created timelines, when I considered budget, when I delegated as needed, these were the goals that I actually met or exceeded.
Create a Plan
After all, a goal without a plan is just a pipe dream.
Here are 5 simple steps to get you moving toward your goals this year:
Step 1: Where Are You Now?
Max De Pree says, “the first task of a leader is to define reality.”
I believe the first building block of personal or professional success is having clarity on your mission, vision, and values. In order to chart where you want to go you need to be clear about what you’re building upon.
A vision statement is a description of where you want to go and the impact you want to make.
A mission statement is a definition of who you are and why you do the work you do.
Values are a set of guiding principles that clarify the habits and behaviors that are essential to accomplishing your vision and mission.
Do you have a written vision, mission, and values? If so, rewrite them and spend time reflecting on how these impact where you want to go. If not, review the definitions of each and write out the vision, mission, and values that define who you are and what you do.
Step 2: Where Do You Want To Go?
Now that you have a sense of where you are, you can begin to define where you want to go.
First, define your time frame. Are you building a plan for 6 months, twelve months, eighteen months, etc.?
Then, let yourself dream! What are your hopes and expectations for what you could accomplish in this time frame?
Finally, identify the top three goals that you want to pursue.
Step 3: What Will It Take?
This is where you’ll begin to “put feet to vision,” as I like to say. These next three steps are what differentiate dreamers from doers.
Determine what each of these goals will require in time, budget, support, etc. Will you need to adjust your schedule to make time for your goals? What do you need to stop in order to start working toward your goal? What resources do you need financially to make this possible? Do you need help or support from others?
Get clear on what it will take to make your goals possible.
Step 4: What’s Realistic?
Now it’s time to play devil’s advocate. What is really realistic? Are your goals doable in this time frame?
There is nothing worse than setting a goal that is impossible to achieve. Unrealistic goals discourage and demotivate you. You want to set goals that stretch you but are doable with focus and commitment.
Step 5: How Will You Get There?
The more clarity and detail you provide for each goal, the greater your chances of achieving that goal.
What are the steps necessary to accomplish it? What are key milestones that will keep you motivated and moving forward?
As leaders, we are full of ideas and initiatives. We see potential and opportunity all around. We can almost taste the outcome but oftentimes we get bogged down by how we’ll get from here to there. The “how” can be overwhelming and discouraging so we give up on our goals or fail to build a plan to help us actually achieve them. These five steps will get you on the path to moving from ideas to action.
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