Back from holiday, you’re hopefully well-rested and ready to take on 2019 with gusto. All you need now is focused direction on what exactly you want to achieve and the critical path on how to achieve it.
So, before we go any further, ask yourself: In 2019, what do you aspire toward? What impact do you want to make? How will the year be different? Much like running a campaign, when it comes to goal-setting for yourself or your organization, success is guided by your plan’s soundness and the magic that emerges through the process.
To help you kick off the year on the right foot, below are 12 key components for effective goal setting. Set aside the time you need to be intentional and thoughtful. The ROI will smile on you.
In a meta-analysis of more than 500 general psychology studies on goal setting, more than 90 percent show that goal setting consistently affects our behavior irrespective of the work we do: youngster, Olympian, fancy pants executive or data guru. Research also concludes that people who set goals perform better, exhibit increased self-confidence, motivation, are happier with their performance, and suffer less stress and anxiety. I recommend getting a pen and paper or starting a doc to play along.
1. Define your ideal year. From family and firm achievements to travel, health, learning, hobbies and time with friends, free-flow write about what would make 2019 the best year ever. Take roughly 15 minutes. Go! (This exercise not only clarifies goals, but it also increases happiness and productivity levels.)
2. Review your writing. Underline subjects that resemble what you’d like to achieve. Then, write them out as goals. Be specific, measurable and, importantly, meaningful.
For example, “executive presence”: Reduce anxiety and rumination through regular meditation practice (4x a week for 10 minutes each for 3 months, then revisit).
3. Connect to your motivation. What makes this goal so important? What’s at stake if you do not take action? The "why" is your driving force. Without it, you run the risk of falling off the wagon when the going gets tough or uncertain.
Finish the prompts: “This is important because …” and “If I don’t …”
4. Make goals challenging and realistic. If goals are too easy, why set them? They sustain mediocrity. If too difficult, goals can be felt as threatening, which is counter-productive.
Rolling with the same example: 4x a week for 10 minutes is challenging and not totally inconceivable. Now, daily? That’s another story. The 3-month check-in allows me to see where I am. And, I can always up my practice if I feel like it.
5. Diversify. Set long and short-term goals. Focusing on the long term provides direction. The short term gives you immediate steps toward achieving the bigly goal. (Focusing only on the long game does not improve performance, according to some sports psychologists.) Create goals that focus on your inner game – like confidence, patience and delegation, as well as those that are tangible, like scaling into new markets, grossing X in revenue, travel destinations and the like.
6. Proactively problem-solve for interferences. What will try to throw you off course? Be real about likely challenges. Create a plan of action of what you will do to keep you focused.
A la our example: I will meditate in the morning in bed before I get up. If that falls off because of getting the kids out the door or an emergency client call, I’ll meditate in my car for 10 minutes before heading into the office.
7. Develop goal achievement strategies. Simply put: What exactly will you do? By when? How are you accountable? Share goals with your office. Review them regularly by incorporating them into quarterly staff meetings or into performance reviews/development plans. If personal, find an action partner to cheer one another on.
8. Leverage your strengths. What are three strengths you will exercise to achieve each of your goals? Not only does this optimize your likelihood of success, using strengths in a unique way increases life satisfaction for up to two weeks after the fact.
9. Squad. What support do you need? Who do you need in your corner to succeed: coach, friends, family, team members, partners, SME…? How will you engage them?
10. Commit. On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (all in), how committed are you really? What makes it "n"? What will make you an “n+1”?
11. Track, evaluate and gain feedback on progress. Incorporate regular feedback loops to evaluate your progress. Start with more frequent check-ins at the beginning (weekly or biweekly) and then extend out as the magic starts happening.
12. Celebrate! Making big change is no small feat. Reward yourself along the way.
Ready … Set … Goals! May 2019 be your best year yet.
Frieda K. Edgette (@friedakedgette) of Novos Consulting is a former government affairs specialist and lobbyist turned certified leadership coach, neuropolitics adjunct professor, and political well-being pioneer. She is also the Founder of Courage to Run, the nation’s first nonpartisan 5K and party celebrating women running for office.