Happy New Goals!
True Story: I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve set a lot of them, tracked behaviors and assessed goals, and I’ve even achieved some of them. However, I also forget, lack discipline, or give up on goals that I was really excited about. Because life happens like that.
Whether you’re setting New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 or want to reframe your work for the coming months, here are 4 things to consider:
START BY LOOKING BACKWARDS
It can be difficult to know where you want to go if you don’t know where you have been. When you are setting goals, first reflect on where you are and how you got there. If you are setting goals for yourself, what did you do well in 2016? What would you want to do differently? What would you want to continue to do?
If you are assessing your team’s performance, and wanting to set goals together, consider starting with a Plus/Delta assessment of the time you’ve been together so far. The Pluses are those things that went well. The Deltas are those things that could be improved. Make sure you consider more than the events or projects completed – consider how you worked together, your meetings, your inclusion of others, how you handled conflict. With both, be specific so that you can continue to do the things that you did well and you can start or stop certain actions that will help you actually make change.
DEFINE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
Once you know where you’ve been, you can define where you want to go. We use the SMART Methodology as a way to define our goals – and highly recommend it to you as well!
True story: I’m setting my goals for 2017, and finding that my goals are lofty, aspirational platitudes like, “Connect with my family and friends.” Not a bad goal, but how is it SMART? Sure, it hits Relevant since it’s MY goal and Timely because I want to do it in 2017, but it’s not Specific or Measurable, so I can’t assess whether it’s Attainable. I’m looking at which habits I want to do daily or weekly that will help me measure, enable and attain larger, fuzzier (but not less important) goals. For example, to achieve the goal of “Connect with my family and friends” I am going to commit to seeing at least two friends each month and to set up phone calls every month or six weeks with my out of town friends.
The lesson is finding a way to define your goal well enough so you know what you are trying to accomplish, without it being so defined that you don’t have flexibility to achieve the goal in the way that makes the most sense for your life or your team, as we all know things change.
TRACK REGULARLY TO STAY…WELL…ON TRACK
I need to do something regularly (daily, weekly) to stay committed to it, and I need to track that I’m doing said thing to know I’m making progress. How you check your progress toward your goal is less important than actually tracking it. Whether it’s a daily habit tracker that you can check off (there are so many apps for this) or a time each month when you look back at how well you are doing with your goal, be mindful of your progress so that you know whether you need to change your behaviors, reassess your commitment to your goal, or get some support.
BE FLEXIBLE, BECAUSE LIFE HAPPENS
Sometimes, you don’t reach goals because life gets in the way.
True Story: Two years ago, I had an ambitious exercise goal – something like working out 5 days a week. Then I got pregnant and it became very difficult to achieve so I shifted my goal to having a healthy pregnancy. While working out fit into that, it wasn’t the main goal any longer.
I like to assess my enabling habits daily and weekly, look at overall progress monthly, and then evaluate my commitment to my goals at least halfway through the year (really, I’d like to do it quarterly). If you are tracking your goals, you should be able to tell quickly how you’re doing and if you’re really committed. Take time to reflect on what’s working in achieving your goal so far and what’s not working (like a Plus/Delta) described above.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions? What are you committing to doing this year that will make your life and the world a better place?
If you are interested in discussing SMART goals with your group (or learning for yourself!), read all about SMART goals here and then try setting some! Have a partner check your goals to make sure that they are all Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Rewrite any goals that could be SMART-er. If you want to take this exercise further, you and your group can develop even more specific actions steps to help you achieve your new goals. Your actions steps can then be used to help with time management, accountability, or even project planning!
Meet the Author!
Kenna Cottrill, Ph.D. lives in LA with her husband and 14 month old baby and firmly believes in goal setting, even when those goals seem small in comparison to other accomplishments.