New Year, New Start – how to set goals effectively

It’s a wonderful time of the year to reset, look ahead and set goals for the New Year. But all too often our goals resemble a ‘to-do list’ or look like the same resolutions we had last year. And we know how quickly these fade.

“I discovered that a fresh start is a process. A fresh start is a journey – a journey that requires a plan.” – Vivian Jokotade

Goal setting is a process and requires reflecting on last year, what we enjoyed, what was challenging, how we overcame those challenges and what we want to keep going into 2021. Here is a list of questions I published in a recent post you can use:

Effective goal setting is more than just thinking about business and financial goals. We need to dig deep and figure out what we need, personally and professionally, to achieve those goals. For example, one of my goals this year is to write a leadership book. It’s a big goal and quite honestly a little intimidating. I know that if I don’t break this down, I am probably never going to do it! So, my first goal is to learn how to write a book. Ha! That’s easier. I have actually already found the course and resources and have booked time in my calendar. Making the ‘way to the big goal’ the actual goal enables me to achieve to write a book. Also, now that I have told you, I have to hold myself accountable to publish it!

Here are my 5 steps for effective goal setting:

Reflect. Look back at last year and explore what you enjoyed, what your challenges were and how you overcame them. Think about what you learned and what that means for the new year. Reflect on goals achieved and not achieved and what got in the way. Remember not to judge your answers or feel bad about anything. This exercise is simply to give you ‘fuel’ to create effective goals for 2021.

Envision and dream big. Envision what you want your life, job or business to look like in the future? What do you want to experience and what are you doing? How do you want to make an impact? What have you always been wanting to do but not dared to put on your list? This is how ‘writing a book’ ended up on mine. Remember, these don’t usually stand alone, the work goes on.

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” —Steve Garvey

Specific goals. Now narrow down your goals. Think about how you will get to your dream. Could that be your concrete goal? For me, it’s to learn how write a book, because I know once I have the skill, writing and publishing it will be actually achievable. Think about the skills you require to get there. For example, if your dream is to run your own business, what could be the goal or goals for 2021? Raising money? Completing a business course? Going into a partnership? Be as specific as possible. SMART(ER) goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely + evaluate, re-adjust) are a great framework to stay focussed.

Plan. Plan out your next steps. This part is about scheduling, booking courses, contacting your coach or mentor, putting steps in place that will hold you accountable. Document what success will look like and what could get in the way. Think about what resources you need and make sure you have what it takes to achieve your goal. Setting milestones helps to celebrate progress and small wins. Remember goal setting and achieving is a process.

Adapt. If we have learned one thing from 2020 is that things can change quickly. Stay flexible and know when you have to adapt your goals and pivot. Your goals should be firm but not set in stone. 2021 is all about the ability to adapt and change.

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