Goodbye 2012 and hello 2013! Why does it matter that in around 30 days most of us will try and stay up way later than our normal bedtimes, countdown to midnight, and swap out our calendars? For some it doesn’t matter much at all, that is for those that don’t plan and set goals. For those that do now is the time to stop and reevaluate what we want to be doing with our lives and set new goals that will help us achieve it over the next year.
Each year I take a few hours over the Thanksgiving holiday to review my current year’s goals, see which ones I will be able to squeeze in before the next year gets here, which ones I will not, and why. It is as important to understand why you didn’t achieve or attempt a goal you set as those that you did. I was pretty successful in 2012 with achieving most of my work goals but not so much on the personal side. I didn’t take that week vacation with no technology.
I guess having a new baby added to the family in March should have made me rethink that goal. I am sure I didn’t tell my wife how much I appreciated her every day. I guess I let “life” get in the way. But were these even good goals and what makes up good goals?
Over this year I had the opportunity to talk with and listen to several people way smarter and more successful than me talk about strategic direction and goal setting.
What I was able to take from all of them was that there are 2 types of goals. One is about a result in and of itself. I will wash the car this weekend or I will mow the lawn. These are ones that are about the here and now and tasks. The other type, and what annual goals should be about are strategic goals which are more about direction and the long term outcomes. If one of my strategic life goals is to be here when my daughters get married, then a goal for 2012 shouldn’t have been to “lose 20 pounds” but should have been to “learn how to eat healthy and exercise 5 days a week”. The second one supports more than just 2012 but also 2013, 2014 and all the way to my strategic life goal.
This is what Jim Collins calls the “20 mile march”. It is what we do every day to be successful. Now a goal for one quarter would be more task oriented and could be to “find a dietician to learn about healthy eating from” or “find a trainer to provide a workout plan”. These task goals support the annual goal and the strategic goal.
I know what you are thinking, that all of this planning takes way too much time and thought. Isn’t that the point though? Like the old saying goes; “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”. So taking a few hours to consider both long and short term goals and set them into writing is well worth the time because then you are committed to them and have something to reference throughout the year. I find putting my goals on a white board in my office helps me see them every day so that I am reminded of them. I list both annual and quarterly goals so I am reminded about how they are linked together.
In 2013 I am also going to start putting them into my calendar as tasks and pop-ups to help me stay on track. Even better is to share your goals with someone that will benefit from them as well, whether that be your spouse, mentor or co-worker. In the end what this is all really about is being committed to deliberate outcomes so that you are in control of your life.
So what are your 2013 goals and do they support your strategic goals? And by the way, if you are the last one to leave 2012 please be sure to turn out the lights.