Did you know? 80% of all New Year’s resolution fail. According to a study by U.S. News & World Report, the majority of people give up on their resolutions before the end of February.
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.”– Martin Luther King Jr.
Looking ahead to the coming year, we tend to think about our dreams and hopes for the future once more, and we think: “I want to do more with my life.” “I want to grow in terms of my career and my own personal development.” “At this stage of my life, I want to earn a better income, have a better quality of life for me and my family and make a positive contribution to my community.”
Change is not about making New Year’s resolutions, but rather, it is about setting clear goals, growing in discipline, and working those goals to bring us to our preferred future.
“Dreams can’t be achieved. They can only be realized. You realize your dreams by creating goals around each one of your dreams and then pursue each goal by taking action. Dreams require a vision of some future objective. Goals, on the other hand, require that you take actions that will transform your dreams into reality.”– Thomas C. Corley
What is a goal?
The business dictionary defines a goal as “An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.”
1. Goals have to be clear and specific
Define what it is that you want in clear and specific terms. What is the end result that you want to achieve? For example, if you work as a sales agent in a department store, your vision of success may look like one day becoming the store manager. Your goal is clear: to become a store manager.
According to researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, setting specific goals that stretch and challenge the individual led to higher performance than easy, or 90 % of the time than when there were no specific goals set.
2. Goals have to align to the purpose
After defining what you want to achieve, you have to be clear on the “why” you want to achieve it. The why points to purpose. It is important that your goals must align to objectives or values that are important to you. If it does, then you will be able to keep going when difficult days and obstacles come your way.
3. Goals Have to be measurable
The next step is to determine what milestones and steps are required to fulfill your goals. It is important at this stage to differentiate between short-term goals and long- term goals.
- Short term goals are things that you can achieve within a short space of time, i.e. between a few months and a year. These goals are there to enable you to get to the next steps, to your bigger goals.
- Long–term goals are those things that will need to be achieved in incremental steps over a longer period of time, usually over a few years.
Let us return to our sales agent example. If you are a sales agent, what milestones do you need to hit in order to become a store manager? What skills do you need to acquire along the way? Suppose this is the organogram of your department store:
Sales agent -> Team Leader-> Supervisor->Sales Manager-> Store Manager
For a sales agent in our example, a good short–term goal would be to become a team leader. This will mean hitting other smaller goals to enable this to happen, e.g. hitting sales targets, getting training to enhance skills, etc. Being a team leader is not the ultimate goal, but it enables our sales agent to get a step closer to her ultimate goal.
4. Goals must have a time period
Once you have outlined what your goals are, whether they be short term or long term, the next step is to apportion an appropriate time frame within which you aim to achieve your goals. For our sales agent, for example, it may be appropriate to aim to become a team leader within 8 months.
In apportioning the appropriate amount of time, consider what your current responsibilities are in all spheres of your life. Your apportioning of time must be realistic and achievable. This will help you to prioritise. Assigning a time period will help you determine where you spend your time, your money, and other resources. With no time allocation, a goal goes back to just being a dream.
5. Goals must be declared
In order to help you begin to live out the steps towards your goals, it is important for you to take them out of your head and write them down. Writing down your goals makes them a declaration to yourself, and it allows them to be tangible, making you accountable to yourself for them. Writing your goals down also allows you to keep better track of progress; it also allows you to review and refine your plans.
Self-mastery and discipline in relation to goals is the magical glue that keeps it all together. Working hard and staying the course takes perseveres and a great deal of motivation. You need to actively work on your discipline daily to ensure you build positive habits that support you in achieving your goals. You will be faced with many choices, some contributing to your goals and other detracting, and we know that some of the detracting decisions are much more inviting like buying new shoes or going to that social event. You will be faced with many of these choices and to make the right one takes discipline and self-mastery.
The practice of updating your plans and progress, reviewing what went well and what didn’t is critical to success and requires you and I to remain disciplined. These may sound like menial task and easy to do but they are rather the most challenging for that very reason. We all know that life gets busy and before we know it its 1 month or 6 months down the line and we have made zero progress and then we wonder why that is.
A helpful tip is to block out two 1-hour sessions with yourself a week on the same day at the same time every week. Use this time to work on your plans, by doing so for a month or two you will have built the discipline to make this a positive habit.
It is also advisable to share your goals with someone else, whom you trust, and whose opinion you value. Studies show that we are more likely to act to fulfill our goals if we have a support system that will keep us accountable to fulfill what we have set out to do.
Now you are ready to start. Use the goal setting template provided here to get you on your way.
At iQ Academy, we are committed to helping you go beyond possibility. If you have any suggestions or comments don’t hesitate to mail us your feedback and remember to follow us on social media.