It’s time for a true confession. For years I tortured my husband by putting him through an annual goal setting exercise. He’s probably rolling his eyes as he reads this. Heavy sigh. I was the one who told him that a new year was coming, and we needed to set individual professional goals, health goals, spiritual goals, home improvement goals, travel goals, and the list goes on (and on).
I’m not exaggerating.
He met this with great resistance, partly because of who he is and partly because he felt it was an exercise in futility. In some ways, he’s right. Studies show that most resolutions are broken within 30 days. The statistics are actually a bit disheartening, with only 8% of people ever accomplishing the resolutions they so proudly set forth.
So, what does all this mean? Am I suggesting you do away with resolutions and goals?
Not quite. But perhaps a new approach or two might be in order.
One of them I’ve borrowed from Amy Jo Martin, author of New York Times best-selling book Renegades Write the Rules.
As Amy Jo describes, “It’s a unique game to do on your own or if you’re with a group. Just jot down your answers in the columns, take a photo for saving and rip up the paper to use as confetti when the clock strikes midnight.”
While she came up with this idea as a New Year’s Eve activity, I’ve found it to be useful any time during January (especially if you have a board retreat or staff retreat).
|What I will leave behind in 2019||What I will take from 2019 to 2020||What I will create in 2020|
It’s fun, quick, reflective, and aspirational. What more can you ask for?
And for those people wired a bit more like me, who want to dive deep into goal setting, hats off to you, but please do me a favor and learn from my mistake. Quality is way better than quantity. Take it from the girl who would set 20 goals minimum and feel like a failure when she only accomplished a few of those. Is that the definition of insanity or what?!
Call it wisdom, or perhaps my husband is just rubbing off on me after all of these years, but less is more. I now set one business goal and one personal goal each year. Yes, just one each for a grand whopping total of two. Some of the things that make this new goal setting approach more successful:
- It’s do-able! Rather than feeling overwhelmed and behind when the year has only just begun, you can now start the year calm and confident.
- The what, why and how become clear. Getting in touch with your “why” will help you stay connected to your goal even when the going gets tough, and we all know it can get tough when life throws us one of those curve balls. Be clear on what you want to accomplish, why it is important to you, and how you’ll make it a reality.
- Prioritization = Focus. Anyone can come up with a laundry list, but it’s much tougher to narrow it down to your top one or two. This focus, though, helps you set priorities throughout the year and gives you a compass for your decision making.
- It’s measurable and action-oriented. Setting one or two actionable, measurable goals for the year allows you to track your progress. Consider breaking down your goal into 90 day increments where you list the small tasks and baby steps you need to take each day and week to get to your 90 day sub-goal, which supports your larger year-long goal. As a really simple example, if your goal is to reduce $10K in debt by the end of the year, consider breaking that into $2500 increments each quarter. How will you do this? Canceling one of those subscriptions or services you never use? Paying off your credit card balance each month? Making an extra car payment? All of these are smaller steps toward your larger goal, and you’ll be able to course correct along the way if you’re not moving toward your goal. Cool, right?
- You get to enjoy life. And last but certainly not least, fewer goals means more time for fun and new memory making. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
I hope you’ve gotten a chuckle or two out of this post or at the very least, that I’ve planted a seed or two for you to carry with you into this beautiful New Year. Here’s to a 2020 full of quality over quantity!