While we believe that you can create change in your life at any time of year, the start of a new year often prompts us to consider our goals, resolutions and intentions for the next 12 months. Writing down our goals and outlining a plan on how to achieve them gives us direction and a sure path to follow. Knowing the what, why, and how for your goals makes pursuing them less overwhelming as this provides greater clarity on exactly where you need to focus your time and energy.
You only need to do a quick google search or walk past the self-help section in the bookstore to realise there’s a plethora of resources and opinions on how to achieve your aspirations and #LiveYourLifeOnPurpose. While I believe we ultimately are in control of how we live our lives, it’s useful to balance your vision and Big Hairy Audacious Goals, with some practical, easy to implement strategies to pull that big picture vision out of your head and into a plan so you can make it a reality.
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present” – Jim Rohn
I’ve personally found it useful to use a semi-structured planning approach where I can break down my longer-term goals into smaller, more achievable chunks. I have a personal strategic plan that sets out my big, bold goals, and then a more action-oriented quarterly or 90-day plan that flows down from this outlining the key activities, habits, behaviours and mindset I need to get where I want to be.
There’s a range of ways you can design your annual and 90-day plan, and this will vary for everyone depending on your personal preferences i.e. if you prefer structured lists or you’re into more of a visual plan. However you choose to set out your goals and intentions this year, you can apply the following guidelines when developing your personal plan:
- Know the WHY of your goals – until we understand WHY we want to achieve our goals, it’s difficult to go the “extra mile”. If you’ve already written your goals for the next 90 days or year ahead, I’d suggest revisiting them and adding the words “so that…” after each, and then complete the sentence. When you can really meaningfully connect with that reason, you will suddenly find you have a lot more energy and motivation to put towards achieving your goals.
- Theme your year – identify an overarching theme word to describe your year. This is a simple, yet powerful visioning activity that our team does every year and can help serve as your North Star. You can also get creative with this – Gemma Cunningham our Senior Facilitator & Coach creates a themed wallpaper for her phone to remind her daily of her intention for the year ahead.
- Less is more – set yourself up for success by identifying specific and achievable actions. You’ll only erode your self-belief if your action wish list is too broad and you can’t strike them off your to-do-list in the time you set yourself. Try committing to some Atomic Habits– tiny, micro changes (or 1% changes), and watch them grow over time to start building steadily towards your goals.
- Get an accountability buddy – for many of us, asking for help doesn’t come naturally. Something that I have found incredibly useful to keep me motivated while also growing my own professional network is finding people with similar goals and passions and connecting with them over coffee regularly to keep each other on track. The key here is finding someone you trust, who you can draw on for advice or a gentle (or firm) nudge to keep you moving forward.
- Having a plan doesn’t make you inflexible – while it’s useful to map out where you want to be and what you can do to get there, it’s important to acknowledge our environment is constantly changing. Don’t get too caught up creating the perfect vision and plan; this can lead to analysis paralysis, instead, be adaptable and focus on taking regular, focused action. We’re aiming for progress over perfection.
- Learn to say no – easier said than done, I know, but your time and energy are precious – protect them! It’s easy to get side-tracked, but if you want to progress towards achieving your goals, learning to say no will be your saving grace. If you feel like you never have time to work on your goals, conduct a time audit to see where you are spending most of your time (and do it with no judgement!). This will help you to identify changes that you can make that might lead to greater productivity.
Often, the hardest part is starting. To help get you started we have developed a short Goal Setting Workbook which you can download below, so block out 20 minutes in your calendar and find a quiet spot to get your first draft down on paper. If any of these tips resonated with you, or if you have any other gems you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you! Please do connect with me either on LinkedIn or reach out at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
💥 Don’t forget to download your FREE Inkling workbook 💥
We’ve put together a goal setting workbook that’s packed full of practical tips and prompts to help you clarify your goals and keep yourself accountable. Click on the image below to download it!