Like many people, I’ve taken the New Year as an opportunity to come up with a few personal resolutions and business goals that I want to achieve in 2018. I’m keen to make some differences, overcome some disappointments from last year and build on our successes. I find that setting goals is easy – it’s keeping them that’s hard.
I write and talk a lot about goals, and I’ve written a few blogs in the past on the topic. In basic terms, the tried and true methods of keeping goals include longer-term strategies such as mapping your way and ‘strategic quitting’ – but it’s easy to lose faith in change if your eyes are always cast to the horizon. What about the challenges in front of you right now?
Power and Influence
One of the most important aspects of making – and keeping – goals is to be very clear about where you have ‘control’. Is what you want something that you have some influence over? Or is realising that goal in the hands of other people? The key to keeping goals is to focus your attention, time and energy on the areas where you have power, and to do your best to ignore anything that falls outside your sphere of influence.
For example, let’s say your goal for this year is to win a prestigious award. You have no control or influence over that outcome – winners will be decided by judges. No matter how fabulous you are, no matter how tightly you cross your fingers and toes, you will never be able to control the outcome of that prize ceremony. However, you do have some power and influence over your submission or application for the prize. Did you submit your best work? Did you approach the process with intelligence and enthusiasm? Were you prepared?
12 Weeks Only
For keeping goals, the time frame is also vital. I’m convinced that 12 weeks is the longest amount of time that you have any control over. Anything after the next three months and you’re reaching beyond your own capacity, and entering into the great unknown. The next 12 weeks are also unknown, of course, but the closer time frame gives you more opportunity to plan how and when you’ll work towards your goals.
So, where do you want to be in 3 months? Again, if the goal was submitting work for a prize in 12 weeks time, what needs to be done in that time?
- Brainstorm all the steps needed and actions required to get from here to there;
- Work out what needs to be done first, and which actions in what order from there;
- Be as detail focussed and specific as possible – have you forgotten anything, or been too vague?
‘Diarise’ and ‘Calenderise’
The final step to completing your 12-week goal strategy is to put each of your chosen action steps into your diary or calendar. It’s very unlikely that the time you need to achieve your goals is magically going to appear – everyone is busy and it’s easy to let your goals slip away in favour of time spent on more pressing or ‘important’ matters.
Make the time you need for each specific action. Put aside explicit time in your week for each step, and be as protective of that time as you would be for time spent working for clients. Work towards your 12-week plan just as you would a project for someone else – after all, isn’t your goal as important as someone else’s deadline?