Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Resolutions --- Setting Goals

This is the time of year that everyone sets new goals. I mean, it makes sense... it's a built-in cutoff point in time where you can measure your progress. As much as New Year's Resolutions get a bad rap, they can be beneficial... if you go about them in the right ways. One thing we focus on at work are the SMART guidelines for goal-setting...

By keeping your goals within these bounds, you are so much more likely to actually achieve them.

For instance, if your goal is "2014: lose weight," well, that doesn't mean much. How much weight? How are you going to do it? What happens when the temptation to be lazy or to double fist Chungas burritos comes up? If you modify that goal to say that you're going to lose 10 lbs by June 1st, so you are going to try and lose 2 lbs a month, and you're going to do that by cutting down to one dessert a day and going to the gym 3 times a week, and you're going to weigh yourself every Sunday to make sure you're on track and write it on your calendar so your significant other can see if you're sticking to the plan.... suddenly your goal has a lot more meaning and direction. You've set yourself up for success, rather than setting yourself up to quit by March.

My company's wellness committee sent out an email with a strategic way to prioritize your goal-setting (which I will include below). I really liked how they emphasize that the things that are your highest priorities should be taking up the most of your time. It's great to say that your spirituality, your spouse, or your passions are highest on your priority list... but how much time are you actually spending on them (vs things that aren't on your list like Facebook or shopping or playing)? It's important to set your priorities, take a look at your life and see where you're actually spending your time, determine what changes you would like to make, and set up a plan to help you get there successfully.

Here's to New Year's Resolutions that actually stick!!!

Eight Steps to Writing a Strategic Life Plan

1. What Matters Most to Me?
List all the aspects of your life that matter most to you. ((Spouse/partner, children, career, personal enrichment, health, spirituality, friends, finances, community and etcetera.))

2. Determine what you really want.
Prioritize the list of what matters most to you. Do this without judging yourself. ((1. Personal Enrichment 2. My Spouse 3. My Children 4. Paying off college loans/finances 5. My Career))

3. My Current Reality - Where are your efforts currently directed?
In a typical week, on average how much time do you spend on activities associated with each of the aspects listed. Rearrange the ordered list for the current reality. ((1. My Career 2. My Children 3. My Spouse 4. Personal Enrichment 5. Paying off my college loans/finances.))

4. Envision your future - What's your "big picture?"
Write a vision statement for each of the aspects of your life in your 2014 vision above. These statements describe what your life will be like when you achieve exactly what you set out to achieve. You may want to take baby steps and start with the top one or two. The remaining aspects of your life can be addressed once the action plans for your top priorities are nudging in the desired direction. ((1. Personal Enrichment. I am going to spend more time on activities that fulfill me like spending time on my hobbies and do more volunteering in my community. 2. My Spouse. In 2014, I am going to improve my communication with my spouse so we can connect more deeply and appreciate each other more. 3. My Children. In 2014, I am going to improve the quality of my relationship with my children so we have a more satisfying home. 4. Paying off my college loans. In 2014, I am going to pay off $7,000 worth of college loan debt.))

5. Create an Action Plan with S.M.A.R.T. action steps for each of your top 2 life areas. What specific steps do I need to take to ensure I reach my goals?
*The key is to write them so they meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria for effectiveness (each action statement uses an assertive tone to describe a specific, measurable action that will be taken within a realistic timeframe. Plug them into a graphic organizer, print and hang it up where you can literally cross off the action steps as they are completed.)
For Example:
((My Spouse.
In 2014, I am going to improve my communication with my spouse.
• I am going to use 30 seconds of slow, deep breaths to prevent raising my voice with my spouse when we are talking through issues.
• I will schedule 2 date nights/month in our calendars through Q1.
• The night before our date night, I will write down 2-3 questions that we can answer together over dinner.))

6. List any Obstacles/Hurdles to your goal in each of the life areas.
For Example:
((My Spouse.
• The kids' extra-curricular activities schedule may prevent us from getting two nights to ourselves.
• I'll be too tired, unmotivated to think of discussion questions.
• I'll be overwhelmed from my day and commute and snap before I remember to 'breathe'))

7. Create a Support System to hold yourself accountable to completing the action steps. This system may include tasks as well as people that care about you; stick with you; and believe that you can achieve what you want in life. They will help you deal with setbacks if/when they occur.
((• I will put action items in my calendar.
• I will set recurring, quarterly calendar appointments of 1 hour to review and reflect on my plan and current path.
• Each quarter, I will review, revise and/or write a new list of 5-7 specific objectives for the next 90 days. These will be the most important things I can do in the next quarter to move toward my 'big picture.'
• I will print my life plan and share it with my best her permission to check in on my progress throughout the year.
• I will network with someone who is already balanced in this aspect of their life.))

8. Identify a reward for the completion of each action step and goal. The size of the reward can be based on the size of the goal and the size of your budget, but it should be enticing enough to keep you motivated.
For Example:
((My Spouse.
Reward: Once I successfully use the buffer of deep, slow belly breathing consistently for one month, I will plan an overnight getaway for the two of us.
Paying off my college loans.
Reward: Once my loan is paid off, I will buy a new mattress (using a cash payment).))

No comments:

Post a Comment