As the New Year approaches, many of us are taking time to reflect on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. Many of us make resolutions that, we hope, will bring about change in our personal and/or professional lives.
Early in my career I had the pleasure of knowing a very successful businessman who often recited the mantra: “If it’s going to be, then it’s up to me.” While I had heard this line before, it wasn’t until he said it that it actually resonated. Perhaps this was because when he said it, it wasn’t just another overused chant. Perhaps it was because he actually believed in the power of those words – and he let this simple mantra guide his actions every day.
As this man rose to success, I took note of his technique. When he wanted to accomplish something, he would convert the desire into a goal. Then, he would develop a strategy that would help him achieve his goal. Instead of hoping that everything would simply fall into place he took ownership of the process – instead of waiting for success to happen, he MADE success happen. He brought about the change he wanted to see and, in the process, paved the path toward his own success.
I wanted to follow his example. So I sat down and stared at a piece of paper, ready for inspiration to strike – for the objectives I wanted to achieve to fill the blank sheet with specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based goals that would bring about successful conclusions in all aspects of my life.
I soon found out that the goal-setting process is not nearly as easy as it looks.
Overtime I began to get better, not just at writing my goals, but in developing a plan to achieve those goals. The entire process takes motivation and commitment. Here are a few tips to consider as you sit down to write your own goals (or resolutions) for the year ahead:
Define What ‘Success’ Looks Like
- Will your goals address a personal goal or a team-based goal? A personal goal will guide your personal success. Therefore you must have sole ownership of that goal. If the goals you are setting depend on the success and dedication of others, then everybody involved must take ownership of the goal to reach a successful conclusion.
- Set aside time to brainstorm. You may have all the motivation in the world, but sometimes it’s difficult to convert an idea into an actual goal. Or you may have several goals that are related in some way or that depend on each other. Before you actually start, take 10-15 minutes to write down your thoughts about what you would like to accomplish. Once you have your ideas on paper, you can better visualize what your actual goals should look like.
- Identify S.M.A.R.T. Goals. The most effective goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals, meaning that every goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Once you have taken the time to develop comprehensive goals, then you are ahead of the curve when it comes to developing a plan of action for achieving these goals.
Develop A Plan Of Action
- Determine who is responsible for completing this goal? Who will be affected by the goal’s success or failure?
- Identify what accomplishing the goal will mean for you, your team and your company, and have a clear reason for why is it important.
- Decide if your goal will have several parts and if each part will require unique deadlines.
- Determine what success will look like and hold yourself accountable to deadlines. I suggest that you create calendar reminders, leave yourself notes, work with others who will remind you of your responsibilities and will help motivate you to succeed. It is also important to set aside time that will be used to review your progress – a quarterly review would be ideal.
Don’t give up! The goal-setting process can be down-right hard, but if you are determined to see change in some aspect of your personal or professional life, it is essential that you take ownership of that change. And always remember: “If it’s going to be, then it’s up to me.”
Will you focus on financial goals in the year ahead? From retirement tips to business strategy and efficiency, a trusted financial advisor can help you set goals to help guide your financial well-being. Email Rea & Associates for tips that will help you take control of your own success in the year ahead.
This article was originally published online Dec. 16, 2014. It then appeared in Illuminations, Rea & Associate’s bi-weekly newsletter, delivered directly to your e-mail’s inbox. Subscribe today.