I think that the most interesting aspect of goal setting is looking at them in hindsight. As I sit here looking at the goals that I set for myself
, I have to laugh at how much things have changed over the past 12 months. Some goals I beat by huge margins, and others I completely abandoned. It’s the nature of the year and the nature of change. The real secret to having goals that get accomplished is to start planning, in detail, right now.
The time to set goals is not January. Goals, given their long-range nature, require lots of contemplation. First, you have to consider where you want to go. What are the projects that you want to complete? What are the passions that you want to pursue? How do they fit into the schedule of your life? You have a finite amount of time to dedicate to pursuits, so what should you spend that time on? If you’re panicked in January because you’re losing time, you’ll make different decisions than if you completed the same exercise in November or December.
There are perennial goals that end up on all of our lists, the most common one being weight loss. We’re likely to pick up a few pounds over the holidays, but we still struggle to keep momentum moving past January
. It can take up to 12 weeks to start seeing the results of your increased physical activity, which means if you quit before April, you did something wrong. If weight loss is on your list, start working towards the goal now, not January 1st. It’s a worthy goal and one that’ll pay dividends in your quality of life. Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy weight is more than reaching a goal and checking off a box, its a lifestyle.
In addition to health, financial, and career goals, I like to add in one extra goal for something that I’ve always wanted to do. It may be a skill that you want to learn or a lifelong dream. Have something fun in your goals so that it’s not all boring.
Once you’ve set your goals, spend time planning, in detail, how you’re going to accomplish them. What’s your plan? What does your daily and weekly calendar look like? What are the milestones and how are you going to reach them? How will you track your progress and remain accountable?
Now is the time to think about, write down, and plan your goals. Use the last few days of December and first few days of January to clean out everything in your workspace and get everything set-up. Then, charge!