A Framework for Setting Goals

Love yourself – set some goals in 2015!

Do you have a process for setting goals?  I do, and I use it every year to achieve more and make the intentional changes in my life that drive me (hopefully) to a longer, more fulfilling life.  Here’s the outline of my goal setting process:

  • November – Set Strategic Vision
    • Review performance on both Personal and Professional goals of the current year.  Set final push to wrap up anything not complete.
    • What are the big changes you’d like to make next year?  Where do you want to go in your career?  Your life?
    • What are your “BHAGs” – Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
  • Late December – Set actionable goals to support Strategic Vision
    • I try to take 2 periods of dedicated, intentional planning and reflection for this step.
      • The first period of several hours is the draft, and the second is the review and final goal setting
    • I also record these in a place where I can find them and see them often
      • Professional goals go in the corner of my office white board
      • Personal goals go into Evernote and in the back of my creative notebook.
        • I tend to jot ideas in the back of my notebook, so I see them often.
        • I have a specific colorful Moleskine softback notebook for my creative pursuits so it doesn’t look like one of my black business notebooks.  These are the things that eventually come out in what I jokingly call ‘Crazy Idea Wednesdays’.
  • Beginning of January – add actionable goals to your calendar, with appropriate reminders.
    • Adding them to your calendar now – for the year – reserves the space.
    • If they require certain number of hours, block time on your calender NOW to work on them at the appropriate time.
    • Don’t let these be pushed out or procrastinated.  By setting a reminder 2-3 weeks in advance of the goal, you can see potential scheduling conflicts and pull it FORWARD on your schedule to complete the action towards your goal.
  • Share your goals with others.  This makes you accountable.
    • A few trusted colleagues, friends, or family members is enough.
    • Pick people who will encourage, not look at you like you’re crazy.
  • Schedule goal review sessions very 2 months. 30 minutes is usually enough, but plan on 45 for those you do with others.
    • If you’re a leader – do this with your team
    • If you’re an employee – do this with your manager.
      • I loved my employees that did this for me.  The best even had an agenda and provided summaries of the discussion.
    • For personal goals – add it to the Calendar.  I prefer Friday afternoons because then I can schedule time the following week as I’m planning my week to make progress where needed.
  • Do a mid-year reflection.  I learned this originally in the 1990’s as a practice called Hansei, which I also do weekly.
    • Spend a few hours of reflection in June or July about what has gone well, what needs improvement, and what you and/or your team has achieved.
    • Make any modifications to goals as needed.
    • Set new targets or goals if you’ve already achieved your targets or they seem too easy.
      • Leave the hard ones in place.  Develop a plan to get as close as possible (unless some strategic change has happened which makes this goal non-valuable or irrelevant).

Here’s a quote from Margaret Wheatley on why we need Reflection:

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Sometimes we get lucky and reach our goals by way of a happy accident – much like the heart-shaped foam of my cappuccino this summer.  But to really achieve your dreams required intentional effort.  You can control your future; change your future, by being intentional with your goals.  Set them now, deliberately.  Your team will achieve more if you are intentional about the goal setting and review process.

This year, don’t make a New Year’s Resolution, create a plan to change your life.  When New Year’s comes, you’ll already have a clear vision and there will be no resolutions needed.

For 2014, what goals did you achieve that you’re most proud of?  What other tips do you have for meeting your goals?



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