The start of the new year reminds me it is time to refresh and set my goals for 2018. I know I am not alone but I wonder how many people set goals and then don’t take action through the year to achieve them. In my time at Intel, one year we mandated everyone must have personal development goals and a plan. Each person was held accountable to create the goals and then there was no follow up. The plans were put on the shelf and most people forgot about them. At the end of the year there was a scramble to try to show progress made against the goals but it was a hollow process. The result was a flurry of activity accompanied by little value.
I compare this to one of the managers on my team who took his development seriously. He created a set of goals, committed to take action and we reviewed his progress on a quarterly basis. Not surprisingly, he developed new skills which he was able to put to good use and advanced his career. This seems obvious but in my experience the majority of people put doing work ahead of their own development. In doing so they limit their career advancement.
I am not immune to this and the pressure of the urgent things that must be done now. Here are five things that have helped me keep my focus and reap the benefits in the long term.
My five keys to achieve my 2018 goals
#1 Set goals. It can be tempting to manage using our to do list but in my experience it leads to a short term reactive focus. Set aside some quality time to create your goals. I believe the goal horizon needs to be whatever works best for you. I am currently setting 3 month goals so I can more easily observe progress.
#2 Don’t set your goals in isolation, gather input and feedback from interested parties. That could be your boss, a business partner or a spouse. Having a second or third opinion can help you broaden your perspective and create more appropriate and valuable goals.
#3 Make them measurable and meaningful. These are your goals so make sure the measures make sense to you. Earlier in my career I described my goals in corporate speak instead of using everyday language that was meaningful to me. These days I describe them as simply as possible. I find it is very important to describe the goal as a desired outcome. In the case of personal development goals, what will I be able to do or feel if I am successful?
#4 How will you achieve the goal? Describing your plan of action will help you avoid getting too ambitious. This is a very important one for me as I love to set aggressive goals and then end up getting overwhelmed. This year, I am going a step further and creating a schedule with my plans to help me stay on track.
#5 Enroll an accountability partner. If you aren’t in a situation where you have a boss or a partner who is committed to help you achieve your goals, I recommend you find an accountability partner. I run my own business and find myself in this situation. I will be reaching out to a friend and asking them help me achieve my goals this year. Pick someone who won’t tell you what you want to hear.
Every year goal setting seems obvious and yet most people don’t follow through. I am committing to make this year different, I hope you will join me. To help you get started, you can download my Personal Goal Planner below.