With a fresh new year almost upon is, what better time to start setting goals for the things you want to achieve in the next 12 months.
Now, let’s be clear. When we talk about goal setting for the new year, we don’t mean you simply write out a long list with the title ‘My New Year Resolutions’ and call it a day. The stats tell us that only 8% of people who set new year resolutions actually achieve them. It’s a sad state of affairs.
So, let’s look at some tried and tested ways you can actually set yourself up to achieve your goals and make the new year your best year ever!
Review the Previous Year
Before you begin, you should first take a look at the goals you had for the previous year. What goals did you reach? What could you have done better? What were the obstacles or challenges you faced for the things you weren’t able to achieve? By reviewing the previous year, you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to do in order to achieve your goals the following year.
A yearly review is also a great exercise in mindfulness and conscious living. A time to enjoy the opportunity to slow down and reminisce about your favourite moments (Anuschka Rees).
New York Times best-selling author and international speaker, Chris Guillebeau, has traveled to more than 25 countries every year – and by the age of 35 he had visited every country in the world. Now that’s some serious goal setting! In his latest book, Born for This, he writes about how you can change the world by achieving personal goals and helping others at the same time.
On his blog, Chris talks about conducting an Annual Review much like you would at work … but making it more fun so you go away feeling excited and ready to move on from any failures. In this article, he explains how to go about conducting your yearly review and also provides a free template you can download to help you get started.
To Share or Not to Share
Some people say it’s a good idea to share your goals with family and friends. Being open and sharing your intentions can build a support team around you making you more accountable and motivating you to achieve your goals. But it’s also very likely that you will come up against people who aren’t very supportive and this can end up derailing every good intention you had in fulfilling your goals.
Derek Sivers believes the evidence that suggests telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. A successful entrepreneur, Derek is the founder of MuckWork, and previously founded CD Baby which became the largest seller of independent music on the web. In his TED Talk below, Derek explains why you should really keep your goals to yourself.
Use the SMART Approach
Adopting the SMART approach to goal setting can help you set clear and reachable goals. Using this method, each goal you set should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
MindTools provide a great article on how to use this method with step by step instructions and examples.
Don’t Go Overboard
Don’t be overzealous with the goal setting. If you set yourself too many goals at once, or several goals that require a lot of willpower, it’s very likely you will fail.
In his book, Zen to Done, productivity expert Leo Babauta gives readers his simple system to structure your work day and get tasks done. The author recommends you “take as much stuff off your plate as possible, so you can focus on doing what’s important, and doing it well.”
When it comes to setting goals, Babauta advises you set just one goal at a time. And as you start to see yourself accomplishing that goal, only then should you slowly add more to the mix.
It’s Not Meant To Be Easy
Let’s face it, setting goals is not easy. And there’s actually scientific evidence to suggest that it’s really quite hard because of the way our brains are wired. But the good news is, if you set your goals in the right way your brain will help to direct you towards achieving them. So even though it might seem tough, you have a good chance of accomplishing your goals if you put your mind to it.
Good luck with your goals for this year. We hope these strategies help.