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Goals are for life, not just New Year!
01 Dec, 2020
When did New Year’s Resolutions become a thing?
Well, according to the History Channel website, around 4,000 years ago. While this tradition is not universally followed, there must be hundreds of millions of resolutions made – and broken - every year. Do business and personal goals suffer the same fate? Probably.
At some time, many organisations will define their vision (what do we want to see?) and a supporting mission statement (what are we going to do to help make that vision a reality?). This will probably be shared around the organisation, with an expectation that everyone will then ‘do their bit’ to make it happen. I don’t dispute the importance of these things, but I do wonder about the success rate.
Assuming all New Year’s Resolutions are good, and every organisation’s vision is worthwhile, imagine the positive impact to be gained if we could successfully implement them more often? Even a 1% improvement could have a massive impact!
Okay, so where do we start?
Make it personal and take responsibility
There is little point in me setting a goal (whether it be a resolution, vision, mission or objective) for anyone other than myself. I am uniquely placed to control, through choice, my own actions, but not the actions of others; their choices control what they do. I can (and have) set targets for others, often with their full involvement and agreement, but unless they take full ownership, they remain my targets and are treated accordingly. So, I make my goals personal and I encourage you to do the same.
When I define a goal, it usually starts with either ‘I have…’ or ‘I am…’ rather than ‘I will…’. The difference between these is that with the former two, I am describing the goal in the present tense, as if I have already achieved it, while the latter indicates that I am still working on it. And, for me, defining a goal in the present tense, provides a stronger call to action.
Making a goal personal also clearly establishes who is responsible for that goal; there is no hiding place. I understand that fear can then play its part, usually a fear of failure, and that this may lead to people setting goals that are ‘too easily achieved’. But so what? If I set a goal and achieve it, that’s a good thing, right? And if I gain confidence through setting and achieving ‘small’ goals, I’ll keep doing it. So, mind your own business!
Align it to your own values
Our core values lie deep within us. They define who we are, how we behave and what we want in our lives. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s probably because it contradicts your core values. When we act – as opposed to react – we do so in full alignment with our values; when we react, we are more likely to be driven by our feelings.
So, if you haven’t done so already, spend some time identifying your core values. It’s worth the effort. And, as you might expect, we have some tools that will help you. #shamelessplug
Know why it’s important to you
One of the most-shared TED talks ever (around 50 million views) is Simon Sinek’s ‘How great leaders inspire action’. If you haven’t watched it recently (or ever!) I recommend you do so. Central to Simon’s talk is the importance of asking ourselves, ‘why?’. Whatever our goal/resolution/vision, we must know why it’s important to us. If we don’t know that, we are more likely to give up as soon as we reach a barrier, even a small one.
To work out your ‘why’, talk to someone about your goal. As you talk, get them to ask you why it’s important to you and what it will give you. When you answer, get them to do the same again. And when you answer that question, get them to do it again. And again. And again, until you have absolute clarity on why that goal is important to you.
If things change, change your goal
If ever there was a time of change, the last year has been such a time. For many people around the world, the nature and scale of the restrictions that have been applied to try to lessen the spread of Covid-19 have had a huge impact. Many plans will have been put on hold or changed, even though the goal remains the same.
But there may be circumstances in your life when your original goal is no longer relevant, or maybe an opportunity arises that you hadn’t foreseen. In such situations, I see nothing wrong with setting a new goal.
So, that’s my take on a few simple steps that will help you set and achieve more goals. I wish you good luck and I have one request… don’t just do it at New Year!