With 2016 safely behind us, we’ve got a brand new year to look forward to—and brand new resolutions to keep. We get it, though. Things can get busy, work can slump or speed up without warning, and last year’s minor issues could be this year’s major dilemmas. Things fall through the cracks. The first thing to go is usually the first thing you commit to: your 2017 goals. Only 8% of resolutions are actually kept, which is an unfortunate reflection of our poor prediction and goal-setting skills, among other frailties that are nothing if not perfectly human. We are creatures of habit who distract easily and socialize more than we think. These are survival traits that helped us for thousands of years, but can be the major downfall of our 21st century goals. However, these traits can also be turned into an advantage when used correctly. Bad habits can be turned into constructive ones, distractions can be thought-provoking diversions, and we can use our sociability to reinforce our goals. Here’s 5 simple steps to making sure being human doesn’t let your new year goals fall through the cracks.
Make sure they’re achievable
People are notoriously bad at predicting the future. There seems to be a major disconnect between what we expect to happen and what the reality of the situation is. The disconnect becomes even more apparent the farther out you expect to look, and 2018 is a pretty long way from now. So why is it that we set unrealistic, unachievable goals for ourselves? Part of it is wishful thinking and having lofty ambitions, which is far from being a bad thing. Go for it, shoot for the stars. Just make sure you have enough fuel in the rocket to get you there.
The point is before anything, you’ve got to make sure your goals are the right goals. Your resolutions must be achievable within the year, and they have to be based on what you can actually accomplish. Take a look at the goals you’ve set in previous years and compare: how did you do? Did you need more time for certain things? Are you as productive as you thought you were? Once you’ve put into perspective what you can and can’t do, build better goals around that. It’s okay to push yourself and go above and beyond, but first set a standard for where “above and beyond” is, and make sure it’s rooted in reality. Otherwise, you just set yourself up for disappointment.
Break them down into SMART objectives
The next thing you can do once you figure out if you can actually achieve your goals is to split them up. Goals can seem big and looming, especially if they revolve around specific results and deliverables. The sheer weight of many resolutions is enough to crush and discourage many a goal-setter. One simple strategy is to compartmentalize your larger goals and turn them into 2-3 SMART objectives.
SMART stands for:
Specific – your objectives must be well laid-out and revolve around specific numbers and deliverables.
Measurable – you need to have a way to measure whether or not you completed the objective. Saying you’ll “improve X” doesn’t make it clear exactly what an “improvement” means to you.
Achievable – just like your goals, the objectives need to be achievable within your current means.
Realistic – your objectives must also be rooted in reality. Is 1 year enough time to complete the goal? Are the resources you need currently available or will be available in the foreseeable future?
Time sensitive – Lastly, the objectives need to have a due date. This adds a sense of urgency and will help you when strategizing how to accomplish your objectives.
By breaking your stretch goals into smaller, more digestible SMART objectives, you can easily see how completing each objective adds to the bigger picture and get a clearer idea of how to tackle each individual task.
For example, if my stretch goal was to double my sales, I might break it down as follows:
SMART Objective 1: Personally meet and talk to 150 leads by the end of the second quarter.
SMART Objective 2: Master 6 effective methods of pitching and selling by February.
SMART Objective 3: Attend 2 conferences and 10 networking events by the end of the year.
Each of these objectives came from an understanding of what I know I want to accomplish, what I know I can actually accomplish, and what are the steps necessary to reach my ultimate goal. Using this method not only helps you organize your goal’s objectives, but it also gives you a clear game plan on how to execute your goals in a realistic, time-sensitive manner.
Write everything down and share it
The next thing you need to do is crystalize your goals by putting them in writing and sharing them with those who can keep you accountable. Have a document that you sign yourself with all of the goals and objectives you have, then make sure that document is clearly visible on a regular basis. Look back on those goals daily to remind yourself why you are doing certain things and make sure you’re on track. The added human element of sharing your goals with trusted individuals or your team will serve to anchor your ambitions even further. By making your goals public, you invite people to observe and measure your results, making them feel like a participant—no, a key component in your path to success. Use the people around you as a support group; keeping you accountable, cheering you on, and providing feedback on your struggles to push you toward your next milestone.
There are many support groups, meetups, and coworking spaces that facilitate this kind of accountability, but the simple fact of the matter is this: you can’t do this alone. A lot of people feel like their goals are a private thing and it makes sense—there’s no embarrassment if you don’t end up following through. However, if the people you share your goals with know who you are, not just what you are capable of, and will trust and support you even if you “fail”, then you’ll get the accountability and clarity you need without the judgment. So as a final note, write down and share your goals but be smart about who you share them with.
After you’ve chosen, sliced up, and presented your goals to the world, you can start on the most important part of all: actually doing the thing. As we’re all familiar with, this is easier said than done. The trick isn’t to hack at a hard task and demand immediate results—that’s a recipe for quickly burning out. You have to understand that this is more of a process than anything, and what that process should aim to do is make the hard tasks as easy as possible, automatic even. You have to build habits around your goals. Take a look at your SMART objectives and the little things you can do day-by-day to get closer to that objective. Is it writing more often? Try and make a habit of writing a certain number of words each day. Trying to make more sales? Practice your pitch until you can recite it perfectly on the fly. The point is this: the more you can incorporate your goal-getting strategy into your daily routine, the easier and faster it will be to reach it.
Continually improve yourself
The last and final step is to build a better foundation for these goals to sit on—improving you. Ultimately, the buck stops with you and your ability to stay committed, driven, and motivated. None of the previous steps will do you any good unless you not only make a promise to do better in business, but make a promise to be a better person overall. Read books, listen to seminars, attend business classes, and get advice from people who have achieved similar goals. Work on yourself alongside your 2017 business goals as a sort of unspoken resolution. Even if you don’t meet your expectations by next year, you can always be reassured that no matter what, you came out of it a better person overall.
One of the best things you can do for your 2017 business goals is to sign up for a goals-oriented business class. Fusion@Midtown Premier Coworking in Reno, Nevada is hosting a 12-week course called Catalyst Live that teaches participants how to use leverage and exponentially grow in all areas of their business, including marketing, sales, relationships and more—areas that many have already centered their 2017 business goals around. Catalyst Live will be lead by master business facilitator and vision igniter, Cheri Hill of Sage International. Cheri has lead hundreds of companies and teams from surviving to thriving in her over 23-year career as a serial entrepreneur. If you are waiting for a sign to get started in ramping up your business and reaching your goals, then look no further. Go to https://catalystliveclass.com/product/catalyst-live-2017-registration/ to register.