I am Happy.
Happy that the Holidays and 2013 are winding down. Happy that this was a very good Christmas for us, even though this was a sad year because of the loss of two important family members. Happily looking forward to 2014. And as usual at this time of the year, I begin reflecting on what happened over the past year — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Many people start looking to the new year, ready to set new goals. I don’t know if I am in the minority, but for me an important part of setting those New Year’s goals is reflecting on past goals, not just the year ending. I like looking back over previous years’ goals. Just as you set a one-year goal, you should set 5-year and 10-year goals, because this is a good time to reflect on both short and long term goals. Are you on track, or have you gotten diverted? Maybe your goals need to be modified to reflect your new course?
Now I want to talk about how to evaluate and refine those goals so that you are continually moving forward.
I’ve told the story many times of how my parents started writing their business and personal goals down in the ’70s. This was really my first introduction to writing goals down. Within a 5-year period, my parents had accomplished every goal, from owning their first luxury car (a Lincoln Town Car!), a half-million-dollar a year business, and a second home in Florida. Both my parents are gone now, but they set a great model for my own goal-setting.
2009 was the first year I wrote my goals down, during my first year in business. I worked on them off and on throughout the year.
By year-end, I was ready to start on my second year in business. As I began trying to write goals, I found that I needed to know the results of my first years goals. Unsure if I had accomplished any of them, I had to ask myself whether I was on-track overall. Had any of my goals fallen to the wayside, and was that acceptable to me? Or did I need to modify any of the goals?
When I started a review process, it did indeed become apparent that I was advancing. I was now able to determine whether a goal needed to be tweaked, completely changed, or deleted.
What my goal-setting process looks like
Preparation: When I write down the original goal, I leave room to rewrite or add notes. I know of people who use an online journal. I am actually incorporating both an online and a paper journal into my goal setting. Of course, you need to figure out what works best for you.
I am a strong believer in the audio, visual and tactile methods of learning; and all these methods can be applied to goal setting. Most people do better with physically writing out their goals.
In part 2 of this blog series, learn about where to record your goals, the advantages of each, and a guide for setting up goals.
Most goals will need to be evaluated periodically to keep them on track. At these check-ins, you can look for what is not working and correct it or, if needed, make the decision to put it on the back burner, which is a completely acceptable decision.
A rule of thumb for goal check-ins:
-Short-term goals (1 month or less): It is better to review them at least weekly, if not daily, depending on the goal-end date.
-Quarterly goals (3 months): Review monthly, making sure the weekly plan is on track.
-Semi-annual goals (6 months): Review every two months, deciding whether a goal should stay in your weekly plan.
-Annual goals (1 year): Review a few times a year, checking quarterly that you have weekly/monthly goals in place and are working them often.
-Long term goals (5+ year), review a couple times each year, checking that your quarterly/monthly/weekly goals are in place and you are working them often.
As the year progresses, include comments or notes on original goals (Remember you should have included space for notes where the original goals were written.) Update when there has been a significant advance; when the goal has been accomplished or if goal is put on back burner.
At this point you may want to consider having a Master Goal Sheet, especially if your journal is used to also record other things. I have actually put my Master Goal Sheet on an online journal. I use Google Drive Document, but there are some other great websites. (NOTE: I won’t be addressing that here, but for a great article from one of my favorite websites, LifeHacker, visit here.
Hopefully during the year you made notes on things that happened with each goal. Spend a few minutes reading over each goal, then write down any thoughts on how it went, how you might improve. Tell what actually happened, or did not, and why. This does not have to be a long conversation with yourself, but do explore the good and bad of it. Having a more clear picture of what happened makes it easier to determine what you should concentrate on for the following year.
Do this for each goal, no matter how major or minor it is, whether it was a week-long goal or a 10-year goal, and anything in between.
Goal setting is one of the most important steps any person can take to be successful, in business or in life. Setting goals is just the beginning, but continuing to evaluate, re-write and evaluate them will make this a very successful endeavor.
My challenge to you: If you have not written any goals, get started now. Then read my next blog on writing successful goals, available after the 15th of this month.
If you are writing goals, get an active review process going.
Last challenge comment below: What has your experience with goal setting been?
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Until next time.
Take Time to Live a Life that Inspires You.