In this post, I will discuss what I do with the information I gather from those first two steps to create a list of S.M.A.R.T. goals for what I wish to achieve in the next year, my "third step".
TWO DRIVING QUESTIONS FOR STEP 3 (See my last post to see Steps 1 & 2)
There are two driving questions that I consider before I begin writing my goals for the next year.
- What do I want to continue doing in the next year? (Building momentum off my successes.)
- What do I want to stop doing, or must stop doing, in order to achieve in the areas that are most important to me? (There may be goals or activities that I wrote down because I thought they would impress people, or it seemed like the thing to do. It may be that the areas where I didn't do well are either too intimidating or really not important to me.)
I'm now able to compare that information with my 5-year plan. If you do not have a five year plan, I recommend you take some time to create one. Look at some resources like Michael Hyatt's Life Plan book, which is very robust. I use a model that is closer to what Bil Cornelius describes in his book I Dare You to Change: Discover the Difference Between Dreaming of a Better Life and Living It.
Some long range goals may need adjustment, or even deletion. It's okay to delete goals that are no longer relevant to you. Life changes you, and your own intentional journey will also change and grow you. I have deleted goals from my life plan. Sometimes, it was because I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. Other times, it may have been that a particular activity is outdated or no longer around. There are also times when I realize that a goal just isn't important to me anymore.
I SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS FOR THE YEAR
What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal? It's a format used to write goals that are action-oriented with a deadline. The idea is that when someone reads a S.M.A.R.T. goal there should be no doubt on what needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant & Results-oriented (Following a template from Stanford University's website, download MS Word document)
T = Time-bound
The time frames I set for my annual goals are 12 months, 9 months, 6 months, March, February, and January.
What do I specifically and reasonably want to accomplish within 12 months? From there, I determine what needs to be done as 9-month milestones, 6-month milestones, and then I finally break down a game plan into monthly milestones for the first three months of the year.
This means that I need to revisit my plan routinely to stay on track. Once my plan is set, most of my efforts are spent in actually doing my plan for the year.
WHY NOT GO BIG OR GO HOME?I know some people like to create Big Hairy Audacious Goals each and every month. I am not that way. I have found that setting extremely difficult goals each month will push me beyond my limits initially, but it will also burn me out after a couple of months of pushing deadlines out and not seeing much accomplished. I am a big fan of the phrase, "Slow and steady wins the race", thinking about the Tortoise and the Hare.
I need a lot of little victories at the beginning of a trip to inspire me to go on the long haul. I think we all need those types of victories. Dave Ramsey talks about it with the Debt Snowball. Jim Collins talks about building momentum on the fly wheel. The fact is I do have Big Hairy Audacious Goals, but they are written into my vision for my life, my list of "Impossible Things I Want to Do", and my 5-year Plan. Like my annual goals, my 5-year Plan is also broken down into 3-year milestones, 2-year milestones, and we are here to talk about the 1-year milestones or goals. It's in the year-by-year "achievable" approach that I am making my dreams a reality.
Is there a process, or a routine, you use to reflect on the current year and plan for the next year? When do you go through your process? How often? Thanks in advance for sharing in the comments below.