Here we are feet back at the starting line, with a clean slate in hand, heart in the right place, head on straight ready to start the yearly cycle over again. At least in our second lives we don’t have to repeat the folly of our past New Year’s resolutions that may have pictured a slimmer, richer, smarter, more caring and newly promoted vision of ourselves but didn’t quite capture our innermost dreams and desires. Whether our goals were honestly honed or not, barely half of us will still be working toward them halfway through the year. But I’ve got three new tactics to beat those odds for 2013.
I’ve attended a seminar, participated in a webinar, perused several how-to articles and books and reviewed my goals from past years. I’ve identified a few new ways for me to set and achieve my resolutions this year.
1. Word your New Year's Resolutions to be more doableFirst I am going to rename my New Year’s Resolutions and call them my 2013 Results. I personally feel that if I focus on what the end result looks like instead of a list that can feel like a bunch of to-do’s, that mental image will work better for me.
Overall we think about and write resolutions too broadly. Those of us who have spent some time in the business world have been introduced to the SMART as a method for setting department goals. This approach can be helpful with setting personal results too. For example, “Earn more money” is a common goal. But “Put myself on an accelerated career path at my company so that I can be considered for a promotion by third quarter”, or “Pursue a consulting business that I can work at part-time and have a first client by mid year” are much more specific and present a clearer picture of what an end result could look like. The resolution has to be crafted in such a way that the path to achieving it becomes more visible making the to do’s or weekly activities easier to figure out. Even Abraham Lincoln weighed in on this: “A goal properly set is half way reached.”
2. Make a Blueprint to see what goals are being achievedIn his how-to book “Super Self”, Charles Givens goes further and describes how to complete a blueprint for what we want to achieve. I particularly like that his first step is to list your dreams. Givens’s process continues with writing down Values, Goals, Action Plans all the way to Daily Activities, the latter basically being your to-do lists. The book was written 20 years ago and can appear somewhat dated in parts; Givens passed away in 1998. But his overall concept of creating a Blueprint for yourself in the form of a notebook with tabs is one that works for me visually and functionally.
I’m creating a version of this in Word and I think and hope it will help me stay focused. It’s so easy to lose time and purpose each day answering email, visiting web sites, posting on social networks, texting on our cell phones, all distractions we have to contend with. I’m hoping Givens’s process will provide some structure to my day.
There are thousands of other self-help books on this subject and a hundred thousand on related topics like changing our habits and managing our time, for example. I recently attended a seminar on “less doing” that basically boiled down to how to use 20 different apps to make you more efficient. I will post more about this later but I found it to be a unique and fresh approach to an age old problem. In the end what we really need is some discipline because as humans it’s easy to stray.
3. Get a Partner(s) to check your progressAnother way I believe we can get some discipline is to find a partner or group who can hold us accountable to our commitments. Again if we look to the business world as an example, goals, objectives, timelines and milestones are agreed to each year or each quarter by a team with check points along the way that held everyone to their responsibilities. We don’t have that in our personal lives but we can benefit from that approach. We need someone(s) who doesn’t have to have the same goals as us but has enough of an understanding of what we are striving to achieve that they can help us over the hurdles when they appear and they will appear. This agreement can be reciprocal and can be realized in face-to-face or phone meeting each week or month or whatever the timeframe that works for the individuals involved.
But what works for me may not for you. Goal setting is obviously a very personal experience. So what works for you? Trying anything new this year? Share some ideas here and maybe we can find ways to check each other throughout the year. A Happy and SMART New Year to all!