Whether you’re a top Wall Street executive or the leader of a startup, you probably pride yourself on being focused and ROI-driven and marvel at your ability to see the big picture and the endgame. Yet when it comes to your own life, you may be defaulting to autopilot, giving zero attention to your personal endgame for both your work and your life. This is something I not only see with clients in my introductory calls but also understand intimately because I did this for 20 years of my business career.
The last few months of the year are a great time to shake things up and elevate your game — to regroup, reassess and craft or recraft your work and life goals. You have plenty of time to create results and finish the year strong.
Why Goals Are Important
Goals can give you clarity about the results you want to see. They can help you get to the essence of where you want to go, what you want to change and how you want to improve. Empowered by the clarity of your goals, you can focus your energy on execution and create forward momentum. Understanding your goals and striving to achieve them can contribute to your sense of purpose, well-being and satisfaction. Without goals, you may be operating without direction and replicating your days, weeks and even years, rudderless in the passage of time.
Five Tips For Setting And Achieving Goals
Here are my five tips to maximize your goal-setting ROI:
1. Get Clear On The Outcomes
As a first step, ask yourself: What outcomes do I want to see in my life by the end of the year, and why? To keep it simple, identify outcomes in three buckets: work, relationships and self. They could be about results you want to achieve, skills you want to develop or behavior you want to change. For example, a client who’s a financial services business COO set goals of broadening his network at work (to exert more influence and get to the next role), being mentally present during family time (to enjoy focused time with his kids) and working on stress management (to experience less frustration and feel better). A startup founder chose to elevate his team management skills at work (so that it was less draining to manage people), reenergize his network and get healthy. You get the picture.
2. Choose Two To Three Important But Achievable Goals
Look at your desired outcomes, and ask yourself two questions for each goal you want to achieve:
• Is this goal so important to me that I’ll make it a priority? If not, eliminate it.
• Can I achieve this in the next few months? If not, deconstruct the goal to subparts that are more realistic.
Now select your two to three highest-impact, highest-priority and highest-ROI goals. There’s nothing stopping you from setting bigger, more audacious goals, and more of them, but we’re talking specifically about year-end goals here.
3. Create A Game Plan, And Write It Down
For each goal you identify, create a specific game plan that drives the outcomes, and write it down:
• What result do you want to see? Be specific.
• What actions are you committed to taking to achieve that result?
• What is your logistics plan to prioritize these actions?
• What is your mindset plan to overcome your discomfort and keep you motivated?
• What is your accountability plan for holding yourself accountable and dealing with your weak moments?
This isn’t rocket science. But the gap between knowing to do something and actually doing is often harder to cross than we imagine. You likely know this, which is why you need a strong game plan. Most of my clients are Type A executives with very busy schedules, and two things we especially focus on are the logistics plan and mindset plan to overcome the aversion to stepping outside of the status quo.
4. Make Your Goals A Priority Every Day
Make your goals a priority. Dwell on them, talk about them and give them your focus, your energy and your attention. Use tools to help you do this: Set a morning routine, have mental rehearsals, block off your calendar and set your intentions. Experiment with these tools, and choose the ones that work best.
5. Take Action
The only way to do it is to do it. Whether you want to become more knowledgeable about a subject, strengthen your network, get healthy, get a new job, manage stress better, get a promotion, learn a new skill or feel better, almost anything you want to do is achievable when you set a goal, commit to a game plan and execute it one step at a time.
Setting goals and committing to a few months of solid action can help you finish the year strong.