Photo: Steve Bittinger via Flickr
When New Year’s resolutions come to mind, most of us think about getting fit or shedding pounds. But taking stock and setting goals in the New Year doesn’t have to be about diet and exercise alone. It’s a great time to set some career resolutions as well.
In truth, setting the goal is the easy part. It’s keeping those New Year’s resolutions that gives most of us trouble. We either try too much, too hard, too fast or we fail to create a plan and follow through on goals that are meaningful. As a business owner, I have to assess every goal to make sure it is right, then create a project plan to achieve success. This approach is key with New Year’s resolutions as well. Any goal worth achieving is worth a plan.
To start, take an unplugged day. Even if you can’t take an entire day, take a block of time and get out of the office. Find a place that gives you energy and inspiration. Turn your phone off and disconnect from other outside interruptions. Make sure to bring a blank journal or some big sheets of paper and a pen.
For any resolution, I start with a little life assessment, and I always do it in writing as it creates a deeper connection in the brain. It’s also helpful later in the year when checking in on your plan.
First, give yourself a score of 1 – 10, 10 being best, in the following areas of your life:
- Other (add in an area that is meaningful to you).
How do you feel about those scores? Are you ok with them? Are you surprised by any low or high scores? What would you like those numbers to be in 2018?
I think you will find that it is difficult to lead in your career when you are off balance in other areas of your life. The goal is not to have perfect 10’s in each category, but simply to be aware of a deficit which may be impacting your work (and your happiness).
Remember, we can’t change everything all at once. If we put energy into all of these areas, we probably won’t make any great change. Use the “Essentialism” concept to focus on what’s most important to you this year. Perhaps you really want to put your efforts into achieving some key career milestones.
Next, you’ll review how last year went.
- What were the wins?
- What successes did you have?
- What did you learn?
- What were the losses?
- Where did you miss?
- What’s holding you back?
The expression that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it applies to your New Year, New You planning. Get clear on the lessons learned from the past year.
Now, start dreaming for your future. Paint a picture, if not literally then with words. What would success look like in 2018. What do you want more of? Less of? What would you like to do?
Do a brain dump. Write down all of the things you want to do in the following categories, looking at all areas of your life, and specifically how they each impact your business goals.
Do not edit yourself at this point. Write it all down. Whether you want to land a specific client, make the leap to manager, increase your department’s revenue… anything you hope to achieve.
Once done, rank the list 1,2,3.
- 1 things that are non-negotiable to do this year.
- 2 things that you would like to do if possible this year.
- 3 is for someday, maybe.
Assess your list of “1s”.
- Why do you want to do these things?
- What is the benefit of success for each item?
- What obstacles might get in your way?
- What steps need to happen to accomplish this goal?
- How will you feel if you don’t accomplish this goal?
- Are you crystal clear on the goal? Remember, you can’t hit a fuzzy target.
Chunk down your goals. If any step seems too big, make it into a smaller steps. Focusing on baby steps will get you anywhere you want to go.
Write out the months of the year. Start plugging in your “1” goals and the steps that need to happen to accomplish them. Do an honest assessment when you’re done. Is this realistic? Does anything need to be adjusted? A big key is to avoid thinking about the year as a whole. Break it into quarters (or a 90 day sprint).
For most of us, it is best to start here and truly focus on that list of “1s” — the goals most important to achieve. Success begets success and focusing on these first will keep you moving forward. If you truly feel that you have room, you can add the “2’s”.
Look at the calendar again. Is it realistic? How would accomplishing these things make you feel? Make adjustments as needed knowing the realities of your life and the experiences of your past. Now, put the goals into your real calendar.
With your goals and plan in place you are ready to put the plan into action. Make yourself accountable by setting check-in dates in your schedule. I prefer to do these weekly. Each week, I check in to make sure that I’m doing the steps necessary to achieve my goals. If something needs to be adjusted or re-set I make those changes. And I celebrate the accomplishment and additional motivation that comes with checking that YES as I achieve the steps getting me closer to my goal.
There is nothing magical per se about New Year’s. You don’t have to wait for a particular date on the calendar to start designing the career you are after. The years will pass whether we have a plan for them or not. It’s up to you to create your most successful year yet!
Lisa Druxman is an entrepreneur, the founder of FIT4MOM and author of the upcoming, The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself While Raising a Happy, Healthy Family.