One of my keys to success is having an annual goal setting system. I share a simple framework to set SMARTER goals and some of the common mistakes in goal setting and what you should do instead. I share a vital distinction between 2 different type of goals you should have – habit goals and achievement goals. Finally, I share a video of a 7 step-by-step annual goal-setting process to create unstoppable momentum for your goals in 2018. Read the blog first and then watch the video. Clarity is power. Clear goals lead to a happier and more meaningful life.
Let’s begin with some key distinctions about goals in general.
- Write your goals. According to Dr. Gail Mathews of Dominican University who did an extensive survey on this found that the mere act of writing down your goals increase your likelihood of achieving them by a whopping 40%. This is a huge advantage, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that?
See the SMARTER goal setting framework below to make sure you frame the goals in the correct way.
- Daily Visibility – Make sure your annual goals are visible daily. Shoot for 7-10 goals per year more than that and people tend to lose focus. It hinders goal achievement.
- Do less to achieve more. Focus on 2-3 key goals for the quarter. More than 3 dilutes your focus and stops you making progress. I call these my “Three to Thrive!”
- Review regularly Have a regular review system. Review 1) annual goals list daily as part of the morning ritual. Have a weekly review in detail, Have a thorough as part of a quarterly review and finally have an annual goal setting system. I usually do this in December every year. (See a detailed video below of the process)
- Choose to focus on the right type of goals. There are 2 types of goals. Differentiate between habit goals and achievement goals. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act but a habit.” It is so important to cultivate key success habits. Installing these habits will help automate success.
An example of a habit goal is to meditate 20 minutes every morning at 6 am. Whereas an achievement goal might be to achieve a certain sales target by a certain date.
Most people generally consider just achievement goals when setting goals. I believe that habit goals are even more powerful. Set some key habit goals that will support your achievement goals and make success a simple by-product.
5 guidelines for effective goal setting
1. Write Goals using the SMARTER Framework
(a) Specific: Identify exactly what you want to achieve. Specific is terrific. Unfortunately, we let ourselves down by being general. Let me share some common mistakes and the correct remedies:
Bad example: Learn photography
Better Example: Complete Linda.com’s photography 101 course.
(b) Measurable: Goals should be measurable – Quantify the result. In that way, you will be able to track progress. When you measure something then you can understand it. When you can understand it then you can improve it.
Bad example: Earn more money
Better example: Earn 5 lacs more than last year
(c) Action Oriented words – Don’t use “be” words, use verbs instead. It will give a specific action to get done.
Bad example: Be more consistent in blogging
Better: Write one awesome new blog post every Tuesday
(d) Risky – Stretch you outside your comfort zone. Life is truly lived outside of your comfort
Zone. A goal which is in your discomfort zone is more compelling. It helps you grow as a person. Growth is a key human need for life to be meaningful and exciting.
Bad example: Increase sales by 3%
Better example: Increase sales by 15%
My suggestion is to use the M.A.D. goal setting system that is covered in the accompanying video for a vital distinction.
(e)Time-bound – Make sure every goal has a specific time-bound deadline.
Bad example: Lose 10kgs
Better example: Lose 10kgs by 1st April 2018
Here is an example of a Habit Goals
Bad example: Write 200 words a day
Better example: Write 200 words a day, 5 days a week starting 1st January 2018 and do it for 70 days in a row.
Differentiate between a habit goal and an achievement goal as you will frame both differently.
The University of London research shows that it takes 66 days to install a habit and make it an automatic behavior. Set some micro commitments and the key is consistency. Here are 9 routines that successful people do every single day. Choose some that you’d like to install as part of your habit goals.
(f) Exciting – Is your goal exciting? Is it personally compelling to you?
Bad example: take a 1-week vacation in summers
Better example: take a 30-day experience vacation in Barcelona in June with my family
(g) Relevant – The goal needs to be relevant to your season in life. If for example you are a mother of 3 with a newborn baby then a goal of going back to school and get my MBA may not be relevant.
A more relevant goal in this example is: Complete an online course of strategic planning
2. Choose Goals As Per Your Key Life Categories
When setting goals it is also important that we cover key categories. Identify which part of your life it will positively impact. Here are 11 key categories that I divide my life into:
My Personal Life:
- Health & fitness
- Intellectual life
- Emotional life
- Character i.e. my inner nature
- Spiritual life
The quality of your personal life determines everything else.
- Love relationship
- Social life i.e. extended family and friends
My Business Life:
- Financial life
My Quality of Life:
- Things & experiences e.g. homes, travel etc.
Like a business has a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), I feel we need a similar long-term vision of how the above 11 facets of our life will look, sound and feel like. It needs to be a vivid description of how we want life to be.
My Life Vision:
- A vivid and compelling description of your FUTURE.
3. Identify Your Why
Step 3 is to write down your key motivators of WHY you want to achieve a goal. This is a CRUCIAL step that is often missed out. Write down what you will gain by following through and what you will lose if things remain the same.
We generally will do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure. Knowing what those are will inspire you and give you the tenacity to persist even when things get challenging. Put an asterisk next to your key motivators so that you know what pushes your buttons.
4. Decide how you will reward yourself
The next step is one of my favorite steps – decide how you want to reward yourself when you achieve your goal. Is it with a thing (e.g. phone, jewelry etc.) or an experience (party, exotic vacation etc.)
Know what reward awaits also makes the goal getting process more fun and you will find yourself willing to take on challenges more positively.
5. Finally, identify the next step
Never set a goal without identifying the next step that you need to take. For example, it could be to research or to schedule an appointment. Choose a simple step that’s in your comfort zone. I like to identify 2-3 next steps and checking these off helps me create a sense of achievement and helps me enjoy the process.
Pick the next step and schedule it on your calendar. In this way, you start making regular progress on the things that matter to you. You will be able to create an EPIC Life!
Goal writing and re-writing will increase your goal focus, you goal commitment, and your goal follow through.
I have prepared a special SMARTER goal setting template and the Annual Goal Setting Process Template.
My Annual Goal Setting Process
Here is my annual goal setting process. This 20-minute video will take you through a seven-step powerful step-by-step goal setting process I follow. I have been following this for many years and it really has helped me craft an extraordinary and epic life. Use this process to help set up the coming year as the BEST YEAR EVER!
So what are some of your top goals for 2018? Share your comment below.