I admire anyone who sets New Year resolutions and actually sticks to them. In my case, my main priority at that time of year is reaching spring without slitting my wrists!
Dramatic I know but, a sensation seeker to the core, the post festive slump combined with the 'starless and bible-black' nights can have a S.A.D. effect on my oh so creative sensibility – leading to too much navel gazing and not enough action. At least I know myself.
This is why I choose autumn to review what I’ve achieved and what I want to do next. Perhaps because of that lingering ‘back to school’ feeling, I find this is a great time to assess the old and plan the new. Advantageously, it also means that I am well into the journey by the time January is upon us and can just switch back into work mode rather than waste time cranking up the gears of possibility.
Whatever the timing, goal setting is a powerful success technique as most higher flyers will tell you.
Simplistically, if you know what you want from life, you have much more chance of getting it! Alternatively, you can let others take control, which is fine if that’s what makes you happy. However, if you’re taking a laissez faire approach to your ambitions, don’t get bitter and twisted if you end up with what others want and not what your heart desires.
If you’re about to take a shot at defining some new goals, using the S.M.A.R.T principle will help you focus on and achieve the prize.
Clearly define each of your goals so that you have specific targets to aim for. This sounds obvious but how many times have you vaguely thought you’d like to do something in your life but never got around to it? “I want to change” is not a goal – think about exactly what you want to achieve and what actions this will entail.
Quantifying your goal ensures that you can assess your achievement levels as you go along and know when you’ve achieved that goal. For example, I want to be rich is too vague while I want to earn £100,000 by the end of year gives you a measurable target to work to.
Goals need to be within your reach so that you are motivated enough to commit to achieving them while being challenging enough to change your life in the way that you foresee.
If you set yourself a big challenge, make sure that you also set interim goals along the way. Also, to stay motivated, your goal needs to have true meaning and value to you as opposed to being something that you think you should or could do, perhaps because society tells you so.
While dreams can come true and you should never be discouraged from aiming high, it’s important to be realistic in both what you’re aiming for and the resources you have to achieve this.
Self-belief, confidence and persistence are all marks of successful people but so is the ability to recognise when you’re aiming for the wrong goal and to re-assess and change direction when necessary.
Setting deadlines is a great way to get and stay motivated. If you don’t achieve your goal by the set deadline, you can either extend it or re-assess the situation asking yourself why you didn’t meet the deadline and what else you will need to do so next time to ensure a more favourable result.
Remember, being motivated to achieve your goals is a consistent effort in which you will be continually evaluating and adapting what you are doing and sometimes what you want to achieve.
For more information on goal setting, go to the FEU Training digital learning centre.