The best way to set yourself up for success is to get down to the basics of goal-setting without the frills. Here are the essential strategies you need to have in place:
Be clear and specific
A vague goal is a failed goal. Saying, “I want to be a millionaire” is as vague as you can get. But saying, “I want to start a successful software solutions business that earns 6 figures a year…” Absolutely doable – go for it!
A very clear and specific goal is easier to work towards. In the above example, you can also set smaller goals such as a feasibility study to decide on your solution or deciding on financing options. One of your smaller goals could even be paying off a college loan so that you can start your new venture debt-free.
The more specific and clear your goal/ goals are, the better all the smaller goals will fall into place.
Decide on a timeframe for your goal
Let’s say your clear and specific goal is to buy a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood. Putting a deadline on that goal is the next step.
This would require you to assess your current income, your savings, and mortgage options. You may then be able to make your goal even more specific by saying, “In five years’ time, I will own a bigger house.”
Meanwhile, you can work towards that Longer-term goal on a yearly basis. This might be by saving money, considering a second job or a better-paying job, r working harder to get a promotion (and a raise!)
It’s important that you make your deadline realistic. If you’re struggling with debts or living from paycheck to paycheck, will you be able to afford a mortgage in a year or even two years’ time?
Buying a bigger home in 10 years’ time is probably more realistic.
Naturally, you should strive to meet your goal deadline. But always remember that stuff happens. Don’t beat yourself up if unexpected circumstances force you to put the deadline on hold or extend it.
Make sure you can measure your progress
You want to become the CEO of your company one day. Or, you want to quit the rate race and buy a farm in the country. You will naturally have deadlines for those goals but in addition, you must be able to measure your progress.
This requires having clear milestones by which to measure whether you are on track. In the first case, it would be regular promotions and great feedback from your supervisors. As each milestone is achieved, you know you’re moving towards your goal.
Conversely, if milestones are not consistently being reached, you need to step and assess exactly what is not working.
Evaluate yourself periodically
This should be done on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Reflect on the things that are working for you. This could be a more flexible schedule that suits you, making more time to relax and distress or using a weekly to-do list rather than a daily one. You need to keep on doing what’s working.
Likewise, you need to deal with what’s not working. For example, an uncooperative team member who’s holding everybody back, or last-minute deadlines
Clear your mindset of negativity
Negative self-talk is destructive and saps your self-confidence and motivation. It’s that voice in our subconscious that keeps putting us down, telling us that we’re going to fail.
Monitor your thoughts as you’re working and when you catch yourself thinking negatively, replace the thoughts with one simple sentence: I can do it.
Don’t be skeptical. It’s a very powerful way to train your brain to believe that you can do it. Rather than work against you, it will work for you, coming up with brilliant and creative ways to move you forward towards your goal.
Ditch the negativity and look to the future with hope and optimism. Studies have shown that optimistic people are more productive and tend to be more successful in achieving their goals.
Your goals are important to you. That’s why you should never leave then to luck or just “go with the flow” and hope that you’ll naturally drift towards success.
Over-planning isn’t recommended either as it can drown you in detail and overwhelm you with the effort of making perfect to-to lists and schedules.
Planning successfully for a successful year requires nothing more than the simple strategies discussed here. They will be enough to keep you committed, motivated, optimistic and make your year the best year ever!