Goal setting can be fun and exciting when you first create them though it is easy to forget about your goals throughout the year. Each year, I try to think of three to five things I want to accomplish in the coming year. Many times these ideas never become a reality because something inevitably gets me off track.Because of this, I end up putting some of the same goals on next year’s list and repeating myself. When I set out to craft my 2017 goals, I took a different approach; an approach that would give me a better chance of seeing these goals through to fruition. Here are 6 ways to make your goals happen in 2018.
- Get inspiration from a big picture
In the beginning of 2017, I came across this idea of creating a three-page journal entitled: “Describe what your perfect day will look like five years from now.” This was the most life-changing journal I have ever written. Through writing, I clarified my vision of having two unique roles in my future career: a fashion designer and an intercultural coach. I imagine myself working in my home studio in the morning and going to meet my clients at the coffee shop I own in the afternoon. I picture myself living in Hangzhou, China where I can take my Mom to lunch before I go to work in the afternoon.
Through this activity, I set the stage. I use it to remind myself that my dream is both big and far away so there are certain things I need to achieve in a three-year period to pave the way for my five-year vision. I need to do something meaningful and exceptional each year to ensure my dream comes true.
- Map out goals backed by action plans
There is a small change I made this year when I set my goals. I applied the model from “The 4-hour work week” by Timothy Ferriss and Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” then mapped out my goals in 4-5 different categories. In each category, I start by describing what I want to own, either materially or mentally. Then I write down exactly who I need to be in order to own those things. Last but not least, I have to follow through. I map out a plan to figure out what I need to start doing or continue doing in order to become the person I want to become and achieve my goals.
Having a clear vision of goals is great. But any smart goal needs to be actionable and measurable. I adapted the one-page template we use in my company’s marketing planning for my personal goal setting. This helps me map out the main actions, metrics, deadlines and dependencies.
- Obtain daily commitment through engaging questions
Another fun thing I started doing this year is a daily engagement exercise to ensure my goal commitment for the day. Every morning, I ask myself this question: What three things do I need to accomplish today that will make me feel fulfilled, no matter how my day goes?
At night, I review my “happiness savings account” as my reward for the day. Basically, I think about five things that made me happy today. I’ve done this internally but also with my friend, my Mom and my partner. Sharing these thoughts with others as well as thinking about them internally helps me feel “engaged” with my life. It was a challenge to come up with five things in the beginning of this practice, but once I started doing it more often, I noticed that I became more aware of the happy things happening around me.
- Find someone to hold me accountable
Sharing goals with others can put you in an awkward position because someone will regularly ask you about progress on your project. But it’s their obligation to your cause that helps to hold you accountable.
At my workplace, we have weekly team meetings and monthly one-on-one to talk about goals and progress from both a personal and professional development level. I am fortunate to have my boss, who constantly encourages and nudges me to chase my goals during my 2017 journey.
One of my 2017 goals was to run in a 10K or half marathon by November. It was mid-October, and I hadn’t registered for any race. During a one-on-one meeting, my boss reminded me about it again because she was holding me accountable. She said to me: “So, do you still have the goal of participating in a race this year?” Before she even finished her sentence, I told her I would register for one right away. I did, and I completed my first personal 15K in December.
Though my goals sometimes fall behind schedule, but with the help of someone holding me accountable, I did accomplish my goal. Late or not, what matters most is that I did accomplish it.
- Use a planner/journal to revisit my goal map
Keeping a planner or journal may be a way to help keep you on track. No one says you need to use it everyday; perhaps you use it as a weekly or monthly reference? Ultimately, the purpose is to have a way to check in regularly.
I use a planner to reflect. At the end of every month, I write a page or two. It’s a perfect time to revisit the map I drew in the beginning of the year. I always feel more motivated after reviewing those notes because it reminds me where I am today and what I need to do in order to get one step closer to my goals. I also talk about barriers and challenges in my notes, which helps me uncover untapped resources.
- Locate your role model or touchstone to get momentum
Many times we are aware of tangible resources, but neglect people who can point out a direction for us or help us keep the momentum. One of my 2017 goals was to get one paid client for my coaching services. I started strong in the begining of the year, but as I was going through multiple big projects in the summer, I began to lose focus. So I reconnected with my mentor of Intercultural Coaching, Melissa, just to get my momentum back.
Finding a role model who will hold you accountable will help keep you on track with friendly reminders and positive reinforcement.
As Lao Tzu says, "a thousand mile journey starts with the first step." But it's challenging to stay on track throughout all 365 days of the year. The key is to connect the dots when working on any annual goals or long-term plans. Take a big goal and break it into small, actionable pieces. Create monthly goals and daily activities to reach those goals. Track milestones along the way and use the big goal achievement to build up your overarching life goal. By taking this new appraoch, I no longer need to repeat my annual goals any more because I have learned how to stay focused and on track.