Oh, no, I can hear you thinking…not another “start the New Year right” blog. Another lecture about resolutions, goals and lists, plans and clean slates, and all that. And a pile of well-intentioned platitudes that will be forgotten long before Valentine’s Day, right?
If you’ve read my blogs before, you know that’s not my style. However, I AM committed to helping all of you move forward in your professional and personal lives. And that takes a little more than dictating your New Year’s resolutions and lists to Siri or Alexa. If that were the case, you could just tell them, “Remind me to lose 20 pounds by March,” and be done with it.
I mean, yes, I want you to get what you want. But I want to you to start thinking strategically about how you will get what you want. And that doesn’t mean a 20-page plan of attack. However, it DOES mean that you need to take an unflinching look at your life, where you are, and where you WANT to be—and strategize accordingly.
Step One? Facing Your Situation
A lot of folks never get out of the starting blocks because they’re afraid to take that first step. They can’t bring themselves to step on the scale, look at their credit card balance, or tally up how many eBooks they gave up on after five pages. Success only comes when you open your eyes and realistically assess your situation. And only THEN can you start to identify where you want to be, where you actually are now, and how you might get from A to B. Your plan could be as simple as a Post-It note you stick on your bathroom mirror. But facing your situation is always Step One.
Step Two? Establishing a goal.
If you’re not where you want to be…where DO you want to be? To get somewhere, you’ll need a roadmap. Try setting up your goals with these three steps:
- First, I always encourage my clients to think in terms of SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. And this is key– you don’t have to have a lot of goals–if one situation is taking up most of the real estate inside your head, focus on that. And come up with a plan to address it. Goals without plans rarely go anywhere.
- Once you have your goals, then assign action steps to take to reach each of them. What three things can you do daily to get you where you want to go? This is your plan. A goal without a plan is unlikely to be successful.
- Last, set up a few short-term milestones to make the goals feel a bit more manageable. Getting from A to Z might feel like a huge task! But getting from A to B and then B to C and then C to D, you get where I’m going…makes the plan feel more doable. For example, think about what the first small win might look like if you take three specific actions each day for a month? That’s your first milestone. What it would look like to take three more actions each day for a month. That’s your next milestone.
But, let’s be honest, plans can be scary, too. Why? Because it introduces the possibility of failure, and none of us want to go there. But think about the risk and reward: the downside is…nothing happening. Status quo. Staying just where you are. And that’s most likely the result of attempting nothing at all. The upside? Visualize yourself achieving that goal you’ve identified. Close your eyes and SEE it. How do you feel? Is it worth a little risk? I’m betting it is.
Step Three? Live your plan.
Or rather, take the actions that will help you reach your goal (the ones you came up with in step two). And once again, it doesn’t have to be a laundry list. Actually, it’s better if it’s not.
When you get started, try this:
Think in terms of a 24-hour period. First, subtract six to eight hours of that 24 hours for sleeping (and not engaging in any bad habits, so you’re ahead of the game already!). What do you need to do (or not do) to enable you to take those first critical steps to your destination, just on the first day? Don’t look down the road; remember what your parents told you on family vacations: “no, we’re not there yet.” Just the first day.
Then, on the second day, look into that bathroom mirror at your Post-It note and know that you are proactively choosing to move in the right direction once again.
Then, take the same steps each day, one at a time, over and over again.
Avoid the temptation to measure your progress and your plans constantly. Set a realistic date in the future, once you’ve had a little time on your journey, to check that first milepost. Then, work toward the next short-term goal you’ve mapped out.
And remember…as long as you’re moving forward, you’re better off than you were yesterday…whether it’s an inch or a mile. There’s no better time to start setting realistic plans for your goals than right now–it IS January, after all.
This year is your year to GROW BIG OR GO HOME!