by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.
If you notice, the gym is always crowded in January with people who resolve to achieve their fitness goals. But how long does this last? The key to success is to keep your goals in front of you throughout the year, and to revise them as the year progresses.
Last year was the first time I outlined my goals for the year in a more concrete way. On January 2, 2013, I made a list of eight goals for the year, and I taped it to the wall next to my desk so they would be there to motivate me throughout the year. If I read the goals literally (and thus generously), I achieved five out of the eight, and started on the other three. What I learned from this exercise is that you have to be very clear and the specific in the goals you set for yourself if you expect to achieve them. If you put an item in the last position on your list, it is likely that is going to receive the least amount of attention. If you phrase it in a very general way, it might get lost in the shuffle. If you only focus on the professional, your personal life may suffer, or vice versa. In June, I revised the list by removing the goals I already achieved, adding new ones, and moving others up the list.
This year I will be making a few changes to the way I set my goals. To create a more balanced life, I recommend looking at your Health, Wealth, and Relationships, and pick a tangible goal you set to achieve per quarter. Review your list every three months, and modify your goals when necessary, or as new ones arise. An easy way to identify your goals is to make a chart with the categories you want to improve on the top of the matrix, and a row for each of the four quarters in the year. Then fill in each one with your goals. Allow yourself a few days to really think about what you want to achieve, and to fill in the chart. Then pick a day on the calendar in March, June, September, and December to check in on your progress.
If you are really serious about memorializing your goals, meet with a close friend or family member for lunch or dinner, and say your goals out loud. Then check in with each other throughout the goal to make sure you are on track. Other options are to get together with friends to create vision boards together (add food and wine to make it a party), or create your vision board online with Dream It Alive, where you can connect with other people on the Internet who share your goals, and even raise money to achieve your dreams.
Over the next four weeks in January, I will provide ideas on ways you can set goals for each of the following four aspects of your life:
Personal goals can be the most exciting and satisfying to achieve. For example, if you want to add more art and creativity to your life, sign up for an art or photography class, or join a Meetup group that focuses on your hobby. To learn more about setting travel goals to ensure you finally take a vacation this year, improve your personal relationships, and even find a significant other, stay tuned for my post on January 6, 2014.
Professional goal achievements may be the easiest to monitor because they can produce tangible results. Do you want to obtain a promotion? Open five new accounts? Start a side business, or leave your job? How about writing a book or scheduling more speaking engagements? If so, by when?
Perhaps you want to focus on marketing in the first quarter; obtain a certain number of clients by the second quarter; establish a way to up-sell your clients by the third quarter; and earn a certain amount in commissions, or double your revenue, by the fourth quarter. Think about these goals and put them in the appropriate place on your chart.
On January 13, I will provide advice on how setting up an infrastructure in your professional life, working with a business coach and/or attorney, and creating a marketing map/calendar can help you increase your business success in 2014.
An obvious goal people make for themselves is to “join the gym” or to “lose weight this year.” However, these goals are vague and unspecific. It may be more effective to set the goal to lose 20 pounds by the time you set sail on your cruise in June, or to lose 2% body fat by then. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds in six months, for example, you can focus on losing an average of 3-4 pounds per month, or 1.2 pounds per week. Phrasing your goal this way is not only more specific, but more tangible and manageable.
The average life span for Americans is 78.7 years of age. If we have the opportunity to live that long, don’t you want to feel great for as many of those years as possible? Find out more about setting goals for your health on January 20, 2014.
This last category may be the most difficult to measure, but can be an important part of a well-balanced life, even if you do not consider yourself to be “religious”. Improving your spiritual health can include attendance at meditation and yoga classes, or going on a local or international retreat. It may even include connecting to nature on a camping trip, or expressing gratitude for the positive people and aspects in your life once a day.
Whatever your beliefs are, consider ways to explore fortifying your relationship with yourself and your spiritual path with more ideas to come on January 27, 2014.
With a new year comes a fresh start. Visualize yourself on New Year’s Eve 2015. When you look back at this year, will you be pleased with the results? The likelihood is much higher if you set goals for your Health, Wealth, and Relationships, and hold yourself accountable for those goals throughout the year.
With hard work should come small rewards to keep you motivated. The rewards could be as simple as setting aside time to watch your favorite TV show, splurging on frozen yogurt, or buying a new outfit to help you look your best while you pursue your goals.
Remember, you can achieve goals more easily and less dramatically in small increments than with sweeping changes. To achieve specific objectives by the end of the year, you need to put smaller steps in place throughout the year to get there.
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Share Your Stories
Discuss your goal setting success stories and challenges in the comments section below. If you have a story to share in Ms. Grady’s forthcoming blog posts and E-book on goal setting, please email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
As an attorney and business consultant, Jennifer Grady, Esq. works with clients on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis to ensure her entrepreneur and small business clientele are achieving their goals. To schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation with Ms. Grady, fill out a Consultation Request Form, or call (323) 450-9010.