The time is upon us again to write New Year’s Resolutions, for our personal lives as well as for our businesses.
But are resolutions the best way to go? Or should we be writing realistic, implementable goals instead?
In the past, I’ve written resolutions, and they always seemed to be a bit pie-in-the-sky. The kind of things it’d be great if I accomplished, but it’s not likely that it will happen.
Partially, that’s because I’d write my desired outcomes (e.g., lose weight, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise more, keep my office organized… sound familiar?), and that’s where I would stop. Just a long list of ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ type statements.
You maybe did a better job of writing resolutions! I hope so… but even if you wrote yours the way I wrote mine, here are some ideas to help you write better goals.
You Need a Realistic Plan to Accomplish Your Goals
The missing piece (well, one of many missing pieces, it turns out) was that I didn’t bother to figure out a plan to reach those resolutions. They were vaguely written, and indeed it would be difficult to determine if most of them were met or not!
I needed to look at where I wanted to be in a year (or some defined date) and then work backwards. Break the big goal down into smaller chunks that I could accomplish. And also that would allow me to track my progress, so I’d know if I needed to make adjustments before next New Year’s Eve!
Let’s look at how this would work for a hypothetical person, Joan, who has a goal of losing 10 pounds by May 1st (just in time for summer). That’s 10 pounds to lose in four months, or about 16 weeks.
That means that Joan has to lose 0.625 pounds, or just over 1/2 pound, each week. That sounds really do-able! And Joan can track it, graph it, and monitor her progress toward that goal.
OK – that weight loss of 10 pounds (I really should state it in terms of the weight Joan is now and the weight she will be after losing 10 pounds) is an Outcome Goal. In other words, it is a statement of an outcome Joan wants to achieve. If she weighs 145 pounds now, then her goal would be to weigh no more than 135 by May 1st.
You Need Both Outcome Goals and Action Goals
An Outcome goal doesn’t always contain the actions that need to be done regularly to accomplish that goal, though.
So let’s look at Joan’s goal of losing 10 pounds by May. What will she choose to do in order to accomplish that outcome goal?
Perhaps she will eat no more than 1,500 calories a day, walk 1/2 hour four times a week, and eat fresh vegetables and fruits once a day.
Those are her Action Goals.
She can easily monitor each day whether she has taken the actions that she believes will result in her accomplishing her Outcome Goal.
Keep Track of Your Progress
And to really make sure she is on target, Joan should consider charting and graphing her goals – both her action goals and her progress toward her outcome goals.
She could create a daily/weekly checklist to monitor whether she performed her Action goals. And a graph to monitor her Outcome goal, on which she would enter her weight every week.
Try to include both Action and Outcome goals in your business and personal goals, and you’ll be amazed at how many more of them you accomplish!