“A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it right. And, here we are again at that time of year where everybody is talking about goal setting and New Year’s Resolutions.
You’ve probably heard it before – Successful people set goals and know exactly where they are in regards to attaining that goal. Here’s a scary stat though – only 8% of New Year’s resolution setters are successful in achieving their goals according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton (January, 2014).
So what does it mean to set goals be it personal or professional and why the high failure rate?
Maybe we’re focusing too much on making the goal itself, and not enough on how we’re going to actually get there. A goal is only one part of the equation and if we haven’t thought about how we’re going to get there, we never will – It sounds harsh but it’s true. Here are 4 goal setting tips to get started:
1. Start broad: Start with the bigger picture. Maybe you want to become healthier or get a raise at work. This is a general, overall change you’d like to make.
2. Break it down: Take that bigger goal and break into smaller, tangible steps. If you want to become healthier, what do you want to change? Lose 10 lbs? Want a raise – are you looking for a promotion? How much of a raise are you looking to get?
3. Plan: Planning is the most important part. Committing to attending a new committee meeting every second Friday is something that you physically commit to your schedule as part of your strategy. In the planning phase you’re committing to forming new habits and to do so, you need to hold yourself accountable by putting your plan into your schedule. Remember why you made the goal in the first place. You’re most likely trying to improve your quality of life in some kind of way. You’re not just buying a lottery ticket so crossing your fingers is not a strategy and will not work.
4. Be realistic: Change doesn’t happen overnight so give yourself a realistic timeframe. As well, accept that unexpected things happen in life – Maybe you didn’t lose those 10 lbs by the 3 month date you set for yourself but in the process of working towards it, you can now run 5 miles instead of the 2 you started at. Don’t forget to record the small victories!
We need to have goals in our lives. They give us direction and something to work towards. However, taking the time to focus on the planning phase of goal setting is what really sets us up for long term success.