Starting a New Year should begin with a reflection to celebrate prior year’s accomplished goals which then transitions into creating new ones for the New Year.
So I ask you, have you done that yet?
It’s time to Celebrate! Yep, get out that champaigne one more time! Celebrate everything that you accomplished last year. Be proud of the changes you made, the goals you accomplished, and the person you are today because of it. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to say “I DID IT!”.
Taking time to celebrate last year certainly will help put you in the right frame of mind to set your goals for this year! Just think what you can accomplish knowing you CAN DO IT!
So what is the best way to go about Goal Setting? I know it sounds easy enough, right? Just jot a few things down and you’re good to go, right? How many times have you done just that only to end up tossing that paper away or pushing it aside and forgetting about it and the next thing you know the year is almost over and you don’t even remember those goals or feel you are too far into the year that you will never accomplish them?
Let’s not do that this year. Let’s cement those goals and take action right now while you are pumped up after celebrating your accomplishments for last year! So exactly where do you start?
Let’s be SMART about your goals for this New Year
I would like you to close your eyes and picture yourself as you would like to be by the end of this New Year. Are you smiling? Are you debt free? Do you have a new car? A new job? A new house? So many possibilities. So What do you look like a year from now? This is your Big Picture. Now let’s start the goal setting to get you there!
A good tool to understand and apply in goal setting is known and used primarily in business, but they also transcend to personal goals. It is a mnemonic known as SMART. This chart defines each letter and associates it with the steps taken when you are goal setting. While you are developing your goals and writing them down, you can use these steps as a guide. If you follow it, you will have a better chance at accomplishing your goals. We will use this approach to set up your goal sheet.
A goal will mean more to you and be remembered by you if you take the time to give it a life. What I mean by that is compare your goal to an newborn. That newborn has no predetermined future yet. A clean slate. No history. No Negativity. Nothing or No One that has influence them yet. Think of your goal like that. Do not predetermine anything for your goal just yet.
Sometimes people already have a preconceived notion that they will never be able to achieve it so they don’t even entertain the idea. DO NOT Do that. You only have a chance of achieving what you start out to achieve, not those ideas that you left behind and never took action.
So for this first step, get out paper and pen, or if you are more techy, then Excel or Google Spreadsheet (There is a free template available to you if you join my blog here)
On paper you will most likely want to use one sheet for each goal so you have room to write everything down for that goal over time. For Excel, you can make a bunch of columns. In the first row in each column write down everything you want to achieve for yourself. On the second row, define what type of goal it is. I use Finacial, Health and Home primarily , but you can adapt to your style. You need to categorize these because later we will put them in order.
Don’t think of it as within this year in this first step. Go wild. Write it all down. Ask yourself, what do I want my life to look like in the next few years. This by far is my favorite exercise because it allows me to dream beyond where I am now.
Think of all the possibilities:
- Debt Free
- Buy a House
- New Job or Promotion
- New Car
- Healthier Me
- Happier Me
- Learn Piano
The list goes on and on and on literally!
Think of this as the toddler stage, where your baby is learning the basics, how to eat with a fork, how to walk, how to play patty cake. Those moments are so memorable that we document them with pictures, dates, times, who was there. All kinds of things so we can remember how important those days were and have them recorded for your little one.
Every goal that you want to achieve is going to take certain action steps to get there. Some by you, maybe some by others. Under each goal write down what you think those action steps are. Don’t worry if you can’t think of them all right now. Just get what you do know now on paper.
We are building a rough draft at this stage and will refine it as we go.
If you have credit cards you want to pay off, then put the balance on there. Put down all your thoughts, prices, costs, etc. that you can think of. If you can’t think of anything or don’t know how, write that down under it.
Go back and next to each item write down how you are going to measure your success. In the credit card example it would be to look at the balances each month to ensure they are going down. Look at this example to see how this looks for different types of goals.
Be realistic, are you willing and able to do what it takes to accomplish this goal? Is it in your control or is it out of your control? I don’t want you to give up on any goal you have written down, but I do want you to realize that each one will have different timelines. Ask yourself, is this a want or a need? This step is more of process of reflecting on your goals so you are mindful of their meaning to you.
Back to your goal sheet. Under each goal write down the action steps that you feel you will need to take to achieve the goal. Try to be as detailed as you can. You will add to the steps as you go and gain more knowledge of what needs to be done that you did not previously identify. Think about what other resources you will need to achieve this goal. Is it help from someone else? Is it taking a course? Is it getting additional funds? Things like that. The further you can identify the actions and resources needed for each goal, the more likely you are to stay on track to achieve it! This stage would be like your child now entering the beginning stages of school. Starting in kindergarten and obtaining more and more knowledge as you progress until you graduate!
Goals need to be relevant to the Bigger Picture. Remember when you closed your eyes and saw yourself a year from now – heck even maybe 5 years from now? Do these goals you set today fit into that Big Picture? Will they impact the way you see yourself at the end of this year, or will it impact you more with progress towards your 5th year picture? This will help you to understand and prioritize each goal you have for yourself. This step will help you rank your goals. What is most important to you? What do you really want to achieve this year? What can be put off until next year or the next?
By Type (as mentioned above), put numbers next to your goals by Relevance. 1 being the first thing you want to accomplish followed by 2, 3, etc. Because your goals are categorized by type, you will rank each group separate of each other. The reason is that the types are not necessarily reliant on the other types. Once you rank them put them in order with 1 first. This way you can focus on that one first while keeping an eye on the others.
For goals to be successful they need a start and a finish date. The finish date is your best estimate or target date for when you think you will be able to achieve the goal. Having a date will give you a sense of urgency. If you give your identified actions target dates this will allow you to track your progress and make adjustments to the rest of the dates as you go so you won’t get off track and avoid giving up all together.
As appropriate for each item listed, give it a target date. You can bunch activities together with one date. These may be in the Specific stage or the Acheivalbe stage. Just be sure that you are realistic with your timeline so you don’t get discouraged and most of all be flexible!
Now your worksheet or papers should look something like this:
This is a simplified version for demonstration but hopefully, it gives you an idea of how to go about filling out all the data. Don’t over complicate it. Keep it simple. You will add to it as you go. It is a living document. Be sure to keep it where you can see it every day to keep you focused.
Congratulations! YOU DID IT! You’ve taken the steps of becoming a New You in the NEW Year by looking at the bigger picture of where you want to be in the future. Setting your goals, making them achievable and giving them a timeline will get you there. Print your goals out and put them in a place you will see! Do it NOW. No excuses! I can’t wait to hear about how pumped you are to get this New You and New Year going!
One last thing I want you to remember to do is to CELEBRATE each milestone! Reward yourself so you will keep motivated to get to the next level. Remember, It’s the Simple Things that give us great joy!
Let me know your number one goal this New Year! Put it it out there – you will get results!
Don’t forget to sign up to get news from the blog. I will be posting about topics all through the year that will motivate and inspire you to keep on track with becoming the New You! One post that will tie into this is the Budgeting for a New Year! Check it out here! Then go to the post about what keeps you from achieving your goals here!