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CCW Business Solutions

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Goals That Work: Questions For an Amazing 2016

(posted: January 21st, 2016)

It's hard to change.

Most of us have experienced it, making grand pronouncements about all the things we are going to change at the beginning of the year, only to quietly abandon them a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months, later.

Just between you and me, this happens in companies, too. They craft elaborate strategic plans and goals, but by the second quarter they are stuffed in a desk, forgotten in the daily grind.

Did you know?

  • 45% of us make New Year's resolutions
  • Only 8% succeed in keeping them

Why is it so hard to keep resolutions? There are a few possible reasons, including:

  • Deep down you aren't ready to change yet
  • They're too big. You make broad, general statements, like, "I'm going to exercise more this year." That is much too vague, and overwhelming, so you give up in frustration.
  • Your expectations are unrealistic: "If I exercise more my whole life will be different; I'll be a whole new me!" Um, nope. Of course that doesn't happen, so you lose interest.

Clear Goals You Can Reach

If you are really ready to make a change and achieve your goals, I have some suggestions. Those of you who have experienced my Personal Strategic Planning workshop will find some of this familiar.

First of all, plan to spend some time with this process. Remember that change is hard; unlike tossing out a general, unformed resolution, the time you spend on this will help you to create clear, defined goals that can actually be achieved.

Secondly, you can do this at any time. While the turn of the calendar year is convenient, some of my clients choose their birthdays or their business anniversary date to review the last year and look forward to the next one, and some just choose a day and go.

Finally, make dates with yourself to review your progress over the course of your year. Don't wait until the year is up. Schedule time to review your goals at least quarterly, and more often if possible. This way you can make changes if your situation changes. Plus, later in this post I'll talk about a great, positive way to incorporate your goals into your daily routine.

How Did Your Year Go?

Before you can clearly define your vision and goals for the next year you need to look at where you've been and what went on over the course of your past year.

Here are a handful of questions to help you look back over your last year. You can find more detailed questions to help you evaluate your successes and failures here.

Answers to these questions will help you understand what you need to do more of, or less of, in the next year. Note that you may find some of these questions more relevant than others. If there are some that you feel don't apply, skip them, but don't avoid looking at your challenging moments.

  • If last year were a movie of your life, what kind of movie would it be? A superhero movie? A drama? A wild adventure flick? Comedy, tragedy, romance, or some combination?
  • Can you identify two or three major themes for the year?
  • What did you do that you are the most proud of?
  • What work, or element of your work, was meaningful to you?
  • Who supported you, had your back, or provided resources to help you accomplish your goals?
  • Did you become more authentically yourself last year? If so, how? If not, why?
  • What was missing from your year?
  • How did you handle the difficult times? Small conflicts or big challenges, how did you react and recover?
  • What are you grateful for from 2015?

Once you have thoughtful answers to these questions, base your choices for 2016 on them. Did you find that certain situations allowed you to be more authentically you? You can choose to cultivate more of those situations in 2016. Were you missing time with your family or loved ones? Choose to spend quality time with the people that matter to you this year.

Written Goals Trump All

According to David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University, individuals who write down their goals will have nine times the success of those who don’t put their goals on paper.

This is worth repeating: Written goals are NINE TIMES more likely to succeed than unwritten goals.

Write down your goals. It doesn't require fancy apps or software, or elegant journals and pens. Just write them down and put them where you can find them again.

Daily Questions for 2016

Aside from the quarterly or monthly review of your goals that I talked about earlier, also ask yourself a set of questions each and every day. This idea comes from Marshall Goldsmith's new book, Triggers, which I highly recommend.

Says Goldsmith, "We are superior planners but become inferior doers as our environment exerts its influence through the course of our day. We forget our intentions. We become tired...and allow our discipline to drain down like water in a leaky bucket."

His idea is to measure our effort, rather than our results, with active questions. This has a built in positivity, because most of us make the effort to improve, succeed or move forward. These questions can also reveal where we are giving up, and gently remind us of what we need to refocus on.

Your questions will be different than mine, though Goldsmith does suggest a starter set of six.

Did I do my best to:

  • Be happy?
  • Make progress toward goal achievement?
  • Find meaning?
  • Build positive relationships?
  • Be fully engaged?
  • Learn something new?

Here are a few more suggestions.

Did I do my best to:

  • Be grateful for what I have?
  • Have a healthy diet?
  • Preserve all client and colleague relationships?
  • Forgive myself and others for perceived mistakes?
  • Not waste energy on what I cannot change?
  • Be a good wife/husband?
  • Be a good mom/dad/sister/brother?

The areas of focus that you determined from your work on 2015 should be distilled into this format so that you can check in with yourself every day, similar to keeping a gratitude journal or doing a gratitude practice. Create your own list, and, like your goals, write them down. Then pull them out at the end of each day and answer them as clearly as you can.

Use the daily questions to remind yourself of what is important to you, to spot patterns that you may want to adjust, and to give yourself a boost when you see that you really did make an effort to reach your goals most days.

Now, go out there and reach for your goals!

Related Post:

Challenge Yourself
  • How did you do with your goals in 2015?
  • How will you or your team use these questions to move forward in 2016?
  • What do you find especially challenging when setting your goals?

Images: 123RF: Nexus
and 123RF: Pressmaster


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