As I’ve shared in a previous post I deviate from what is typical when it comes to planning my goals. Similar to how companies and organizations will set a different fiscal year, I set a different “Goal Year” (February 1st – January 31st). This weekend I’m getting to see the fruition of 4 goals that I set at least a year ago.
That means it’s time to celebrate!
It also means that it is time to work through my process to write new goals. Every year I work through this process as I prepare to get off the ground quickly in my new Goal Year.
1. Examine the previous year’s goals
In January I look back at what I accomplished (and didn’t accomplish) in the previous goal year. As I’ve gotten better at goal writing and planning I get to see a lot of successes. This wasn’t the case for the first several years where I would frequently bite off more than I could chew.
At this time of year I look back on my list of goals and the sub-goals I set to get there. Where I accomplished the goal I want to understand why. When I failed to achieve the goal I want to see where I tripped up in planning.
It is more fun to look at success, but the most important part of this exercise is to understand what caused you to fall short. Were there unaccounted for obstacles? Should the goal be a more long range goal than an annual one? Hold yourself accountable and ask why you missed the mark.
2. Look at long range goals (3, 5 and 10 years out)
Your annual goals should align with longer term goals. In 2016 I completed my doctorate. That was the completion of a 3 year goal when I started coursework in 2013. My goals for that doctorate were annualized (i.e. get an ‘A’ in this seminar or write chapter one of my dissertation). Each of those annualized goals led towards the completion of the doctorate in 2016, but graduation wasn’t the goal for 2013, 2014 or 2015.
3. Consider my contexts
This is something I got from Tim Challies in his book Do More Better. Everyone has different roles like husband, father, leader, or student. When writing goals you need to think about accomplishing goals in terms of your context. I have 5 contexts that I work within:
- Personal – Typically spiritual and fitness goals.
- Family – These are things like leading devotions for our kids, financial goals, and have regular date nights with my wife.
- Church – I lead a church and every year I set a couple big goals for CityView Church.
- Business – I consult, coach, and speak a little. I write goals to help keep me on track in these areas.
- Student – Leaders are learners and this is where I examine how I’m learning whether it is a book list, certification to acquire, or language to learn.
4. Brainstorm where I want to be in a year
This is the fun part. Ask yourself where you want to be at this time next year. I LOVE WHITEBOARDS. I get alone in my office and I write all over my two large whiteboards. I think about dreams I have. Everything that comes to mind goes on the board. Like my second grade teacher told me, “there aren’t bad ideas in brainstorming.”
5. Analyze patterns in the brainstorming
While brainstorming patterns begin to emerge. Group similar items together. Ask yourself how the items relate to each other. Frequently, during this step I find sub goals that will lead to a larger goal.
6. Decide on no more than 2 annual goals per context.
Too many goals and you’ll quit. Too few and you won’t be challenged. Typically, when coaching people in goal development the issue isn’t too few goals, but too many. This is my favorite phrase – focus is your friend. You can achieve a lot in a year… if you focus.
7. Write the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. goals of your life
This is my process and it certainly isn’t perfect. I’d love to hear your thoughts or critiques. Do you have a process? What elements matter to you?