The Power of Setting Goals
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." -C.S. Lewis
I just finished setting my goals for 2023. A bit later than I meant to, but at least they are done and written in front of me as I type this at my desk.
Do you set goals for yourself each quarter or year? Often we have formal goal-setting at work, but we don’t do this at home, for ourselves or our families.
Why set goals?
Here are my top three reasons:
1. Goals help me visualize what is important to me and what isn’t as important. When someone asks me to do something, volunteer for something, run something – I look to my list of priorities and what I may have to give up in order to do the new thing. As my friend Casey says – “If it isn’t a hell yes, then it’s a no thanks.”
2. Goals lead me to a sense of balance. There is no perfect work/life balance. That said, when I set goals, I try to have some in each category (see below) so that when I look back on the year, I don’t feel I totally neglected any aspect of my life. Some goals may get more focus in some weeks or months but over the year, it feels good.
3. Goals help me accomplish the things that are most important to me. My favorite time management and sales trainer, Steve McClatchy, says that the things we remember most are the things we didn’t have to do. Writing a nice letter, calling a friend, making a cool scrapbook, running a marathon, learning French – are all things we don’t have to do but they have the biggest impact on our lives. These kinds of goals have two big things in common – you can’t delegate them to someone else and you can procrastinate about doing them FOREVER!! Setting goals helps keeps those things we want to do on our to-do lists!
There are plenty more reasons – continual improvement, focus, accountability, living your best life etc., but these are my top three.
Maybe you’re wondering how you can fit this into your life. It may sound too simple, but just block out some time on your calendar when you can focus and think about what you would like to do this year. You can outline your thoughts and goals according to the following areas: Relationships (Family & Friends), Career, Health, Personal Growth, Money & Finances, Fun & Recreation, Spiritual and Other. Just start listing anything that comes to mind.
When I did this, I listed a ton of things in some areas and just one in Spiritual. I pared my list down to the top 10 that I wrote out to hang in front of me at my desk every day. I try to look at the bigger list every month. A few of my goals are more tactical (like create an onboarding process for new employees) and when I get those done, I can add a new goal during the year.
What about tracking your success towards your goals? You probably have time already set aside to plan every day. Just set up time for goals and reflection once a week. I added reviewing my progress to the time set aside on Mondays, when I write down the memorable things I did the week before. I started doing that because I can never remember at the end of the year all the cool things I did during the year, so this will be my cheat sheet for having a really bad memory. Then I look at the week and see what steps I need to take this week to move one of the goals along.
You just have to take a step. Or maybe the first step is listing out all the steps if it is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). You should have at least one of those. Mine is running 50 marathons in 50 states. So far I’ve run 36!
For big goals, think about how you might reward yourself if you get there. For example, one of my bigger goals this year is to save some money. I have an annual dollar amount that I divide by 4. If I hit the quarterly number, I give myself a day in NYC, walking around and doing whatever I want to do (that isn’t too expensive!). I already have the day on my calendar. I’m really motivated to save so I can get my day in NYC!
Another question to ask: how are you going to hold yourself accountable? If you share your goals with an accountability partner, then you will be more likely to achieve them. My friend Laura has an accountability partner, with whom she walks on Fridays. They ask each other about what they have accomplished and what they are planning to do before the next walk. As a bonus, they are getting their steps in, which is one of their goals. You don’t have to have someone close by -- you can do it via the phone while you both walk!
I am publishing mine here so you can all hold me accountable!
I hope this post has inspired you to think about ways that personal goal-setting can make your life better. I’ll be back next time with more on how my coach helps me with this whole process!
Wishing you a healthy and happy rest of 2023!