If you’re anything like me, you will be carving out time this month to set goals and make exciting plans for the year ahead. Whether it’s time to plan a girls’ trip to New York, learn to knit or finally write the book, there’s nothing like a new year to give you the momentum to finally get moving.
I’ve tried a multitude of goal-setting methods over the years. Some have helped me to make big shifts, while others lay forgotten in my journal all year. What I’ve learned is that there’s a lot more to goal setting than writing a list of new resolutions each year. But you know that already or you wouldn’t have read this far.
Here is my favourite method for setting goals you can stick to and achieve mainly because you’re actually truly excited by them (this is so key). I can’t stress enough how important it is not to set too many goals for yourself. You’re going to feel so much better about achieving one major goal than you are about half-assing 10 different things.
1) What do you want to experience this year?
A six figure income? More time for yourself? The wind blowing in your hair as you finally take that road trip you promised yourself? Think about how these experiences will make you feel. Do you want to feel inspired, energised, affluent? Write it all down.
2) What do you want to make more time for?
Latin dance classes, reading books, margaritas with friends, sex. I know you’re already busy but what are you craving more of? What would you do if you had an extra couple of hours a day? Add that to your list.
3) What contribution do you want to make?
In your job, your family, social groups, the world. Maybe the contribution you want to make this year is to your work, a charity organisation or maybe it’s to your marriage. You have to decide what’s most important and prioritise it so that it actually gets on your calendar.
4) What do you want people to say about you after you die?
It might sound like an odd one for goal setting but in essence this question means, who do you want to become? You can never ask this enough in my opinion.
Now review your list because it’s time to get serious.
5) Which of your goals/desires are in conflict?
For example if you want to have a baby this year, but you also want to have a gap year working with children in Cambodia, you’re going to have some major challenges making them both happen!
Evaluate which ones are the most important to you.
6) What will bring you the most joy?
Which are you most excited about? What will be easy? Who can help you out?
Next consider where you most want to make a contribution and your ‘what people will say about me after I die’ list. Which of your goals will help you to embody those qualities? Where can you have the most impact?
When you finish you should have no more than three goals.
Three is probably doable if you’re not too busy. One goal is just fine.
I highly recommend setting quarterly goals to work towards and then breaking it down again month by month. You might even decide to focus on one goal per quarter so that you can stay focussed (this works for me).
Remember that we tend to overestimate what we can achieve in a year. But please don’t let that put you off doing this exercise. Because as Seth Godin once said:
The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run. It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.”