At the beginning of a new year, many people make resolutions and set new goals for themselves. Everyone starts with good intentions, but without consistent action, intentions aren’t enough to reach a significant goal. Here are eight practical things you can do to improve your chances of reaching your goals.
8 Goal-Oriented Improvements for 2022
1. Write Down Your Goals. Most people who claim that they have goals don't bother to set them. Mostly they hope that something good happens to them by chance, not because of their individual effort. The reason so many people don't set goals is because they don't want to commit to the discipline and the consistency needed to pursue and achieve a goal. It's important to set your goals, write them down, and commit to them.
2. Refuse to Settle. The people who reach their goals don't settle for anything less than the result they want. One way to increase your ability to reach your goals is to refuse to be comfortable with where you are now. Netflix, Crocs, and high-speed internet may make our lives easier, but they are not necessities like food, shelter, heat, water, and clothing. To avoid settling, be pleased with your luxuries but not satisfied, knowing that you still have untapped potential.
3. Set Aspirational Goals. There is no reason to set small goals or goals you have already reached, despite popular advice to make your goals “achievable.” A salesperson who does $2M in revenue could set a $2.5M goal for next year, knowing they already have that revenue booked with their existing business, but why set a goal that requires no significant extra effort? You want a goal that is aspirational, one you aren't quite sure you will be able to achieve. If your goal isn't big enough that you have to change to reach it, it’s too small. Throw it back.
4. Make Them Personal. You are less likely to reach any goal that isn't your own, no matter how much you want to please your boss. Your goals should comprise the outcomes you desire. Your company may need you to produce some outcome, often in the form of a quota or a target. You must generate the revenue, but unless you have a strong personal desire to do so, you’ll lack the intrinsic motivation that best fuels your pursuit. You would be better off converting the goal your company gives you to the income you want to make for yourself and your people.
5. Give Them Meaning and Purpose. I believe that most of the time, people act because of their “who”—their identity—rather than their “why.” The more you can instill meaning and purpose into your goals, the easier it will be to commit to acting consistently. Sometimes that purpose includes benefiting other people: recognizing the contribution your work makes to others can be a powerful motivation to stick to your goals until you achieve them.
6. Make Them Transformational. There is an old saying that it's the journey, not the destination. If you’re a GPS, your goals may be literal destinations. But for everyone else, your goals should provide both a journey and a destination. You make this possible by setting goals certain to cause you to transform, leaving behind this version of yourself and becoming the person that comes after the person you are now. Any goal that doesn't force you to grow in some way isn't big enough, personal enough, or aspirational enough.
7. Make a Realistic Plan. Without a plan, you are not likely to reach any goal. But you can also struggle to reach your goals if you make an unrealistic plan, like trying to lose weight by eating only salad, drinking only water, and hitting the gym twice a day. Plans like that rarely last more than a day. Instead, a realistic plan should require a few disciplines that can be maintained for a year, a long enough time to reach many goals. Make sure your plan isn't so severe that you can't maintain the work.
8. Measure Your Progress. There are several benefits of measuring and tracking your progress. First, it requires you to look at how you are doing, allowing you to see your new results and fueling you to continue to chase your goals. Second, when you are not moving towards a goal, you can adjust your approach and redouble your commitment and your actions. Those who never look at their results rarely reach their goals. Writing down your goals each day will remind you of your commitment to the outcomes you are pursuing. Measuring your progress each week will help motivate you as you mark your progress.