Updated: Apr 30, 2020
by Boris Joaquin
Generally, this time of the year we're looking ahead... What would we like to accomplish? Where would we like to go? How would we like to spend our time? But, there is also the question that we all ask ourselves: What would we like to stop doing this year?
In order to properly answer that question, we need to look back, not just forward. We need to evaluate our track record. What challenges did we face over and over again? Were we surprised each time? Did we react the same way? Maybe it was losing patience with a team member. Maybe it was taking on too many projects and being unable to finish any of them in a way you're proud of. It might have been setting goals that were more optimistic than realistic, then feeling defeated. Or, any number of things. So, look back on 2019 and make two columns.
1. The challenges you repeatedly faced in 2019
2. The biggest leadership mistake you made in 2019
Don't rush this, leave the paper or word doc out, let them come to you as you go through your day. There will be different actions or interactions that trigger memories, when they do, write them down. Just make yourself aware of them and write them down.
Time to Set Some Goals
When you completed the list, we begin to address our future. Take a look at the list and after scanning each of things you wrote down, choose two items. Take these and switch the way they're written, changing them from previous challenges to future goals. Then, add in two new additional goals, things you would like to accomplish by the end of the year.
Once you have four total, ask yourself the following questions for each.
1. Is this goal big enough? 2. Is it realistic? 3. Do I believe I can do it? 4. Is it in conflict with something I want more?
After asking yourself these questions, you may have had to edit or alter one or more of your goals a bit. This is already great progress. Now, write out answers to the below for each of the four.
Clearly state your goal. Goals without clarity are too elusive and hard to pursue.
What structure needs to be in place in order for me to achieve this goal? Is it waking up an hour earlier each morning to dedicate time to the process? Is it hiring an additional person?
How do I need to shift my priorities in order to bring this to life? Goals require time and energy. If your schedule doesn't support that, the likeliness of reaching your goal is very low.
Now that each of your goals are ready to be pursued and worth pursing, please keep the following bits of advice in mind before we get into the next steps.
1. Keep them in front of you. Write our post-its print out pictures, whatever you have to do. Goals must stay in your working memory in order to stay a priority
2. Important over Urgent. Everything will be urgent, people will always need things, 'right away'. Something will always, 'just take a minute'. But, each of these things add up and take time and energy away from your goals. Don't let them, have a process in place, know how you will respond to these requests. Be prepared.
We're finally in the third, crucial step for our 2020 goals! But first, a quick refresh of what you’ve accomplished together so far.
Made a list of challenges we faced in 2019, reverse engineered them into goals, then added two additional goals for this year
Clarified our goals, making sure they're clearly stated, structured correctly and contextualized in a way that motivates us
to achieve them
Finally, step three. Now that we know where we're going, how do we get there? For many of us, this is where it all breaks down. We have all of the excitement, all of the desire, but then it fizzles out. Why? Because at the end of the day, you're still the same person, just a bit more excited.
The funny thing is, this third step is actually the easiest part of the process. You've already done the hard part. The awareness of your weaknesses or areas you'd like to improve. Stating what you want and why it's important to you. Establishing a timeline to get there. Those are the hardest parts of the process. Now, it's just the fun part, and it's two simple steps.
1. New Intelligence 2. New Energy
What do I mean? As I said above, you're still the same person. The knowledge you have is also the knowledge you had last year, when you weren't achieving these goals. I don't mean this in a harsh way, it should be exciting! So, to begin, find someone, something, somewhere you can go to increase the knowledge around what goals you're looking to achieve. Maybe it's a book or maybe it's a person who's done it before. Invest in the information and the experience others can provide. You have to learn this skill, develop it, in order to get there.
Step two, we need new energy. The people that push you, motivate you, hold you accountable to your goals. They check in, they give advice and they celebrate the small victories along the way. If this is just a goal that lives in your own head, the likeliness of you achieving it is about 90% less that if it's shared with those around you. Surround yourself, people want to help you as much as you need them to get ahead!