As you read this post and consider where you are headed for 2013, please see the end for a very special and limited time offer!
A Formula for Success
There are many ways to get what you want. Some are more powerful and more intentional than others. (The one way that usually does not work is hoping, praying, wishing, waiting and just seeing what you get without intentionality.) Because we are approaching yearend, I felt that now is a good time to talk about how to set a goal, how to close it down whether or not you attain it, and how to start again with the next goal, in a way that allows maximum chance for success. Because 2012 is coming to an end, I will assume that you have goals you set for yourself for 2012 (some of you are laughing now). I will start this article with how to close down at the end of a goal’s timeframe so that you are best set up for the new goal. Then I will run through a great way to set a goal for the new year.
“Closing down” is the last element of effective goal-setting and attainment. To set a goal with maximum chance of attaining it, you must have a timeframe – a “by when.” I will go into more detail on this later in the goal-setting section. For now, assume that you will always have a deadline for achievement of your goal. For purposes of this article, we are assuming that your deadline is December 31, 2012.
On the projected date of completion, you should “close down.” What is the value of closing down?
• You acknowledge how far you got and celebrate – that you got what you aimed for; or that you made progress, stretched yourself or moved forward
• You close this loop – if you did not get what you wanted, you must consciously let go of it, or it will hang over your head
• You can look back and assess what worked and what didn’t work and get all the learning possible
• Perhaps most importantly, it releases energy and allows you to move forward to the next goal
Here is the process to close down:
1. Look at Your Goal. What was your goal(s) for this year? Write them down and think about how you did. What is finished and what is unfinished?
2. Schedule or Let Go of What is Unfinished. If you did not finish all aspects of your goal, acknowledge the parts that are undone and schedule a time to do them. Be sure you schedule them in a way that you feel confident you will do them. Alternatively, you may have decided not to move forward on certain aspects of your goal. Consciously decide; and let go of it.
3. Acknowledge and Discard the “Junk”. Usually at the end of any project, especially those that are not finished by the date we have set, we feel bad or unsettled or critical about ourselves with regard to our performance on the project. This is human nature. Find a way to release the negativity about what you did not do. One useful way is to write down all that you regret or criticize yourself for on a piece of paper. Write quickly and go until you have it all out. Then tear it up or burn it. You will feel the release. It is useful while you are tearing it up to play loud music and jump and dance around. I like the Eagles’ “Get Over it!” for this process.
4. Acknowledge Yourself. Now make a list of all that went right; all the things you are happy about; all the things you are proud of. Acknowledge how much effort you put in, how you stretched yourself, how you never gave up, how you attained things you did not think you could.
5. Celebrate. It is important to celebrate your successes. The more that you celebrate what you have accomplished, the more energy you have to go forth and accomplish more. Have a party; have a bowl of ice cream; go to the movies. Whatever you do, do it with the intention of celebrating yourself and your successes.
6. Begin Again. You should have a great surge of energy after the last four steps and now you get to decide on your next goal. So let’s move toward 2013!!
I hear a lot of talk about goals and things that people want. Mostly it’s in the form of complaining that they don’t have what they want. However, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success. They are amazingly simple, yet few people do them. According to many resources, only about 3% of people actually write down their goals! In an interesting study, in 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program and found that :
■84% had no specific goals at all
■13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
■3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them
In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed the graduates of that class. You can guess the results:
■The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
■Even more staggering – the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together. (What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack.)
Bottom line, if you are not writing down your goals, complaining might not be the answer. If you’d like to start and you want a great process, here you go:
1. Clearly state what you want. This could be in the form of a Well-Formed Outcome (see my blog at http://www.mclarencoaching.com/blog/ for a three-part series on creating a Well-Formed Outcome). Or you might use a SMART goal format. It is important that your goal be clear and specific. A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable (not vague or undefined), Aligned (with your values and your purpose – what you want to accomplish overall), Risky (you don’t get far unless you STRETCH yourself out of your comfort zone), and Time-Based (see next step). Email me if you want a form for setting a SMART goal.
2. Have an end date. Though it can be scary for many people, it is very important to set your goals in relation to time. You may be afraid that on this date you will realize you did not manifest your goal and that may cause you to resist setting the date. But a date is vitally important so that you (1) move forward with an end goal in mind which provides urgency; and (2) have a date on which you will know if you have been successful or not. Then you can close down, re-assess, learn what worked and what didn’t and start again. Energetically, it is draining to have ongoing goals hanging over your head where you do not know when they are set to be (or will be) completed.
3. Get accountability partners. It is invaluable to have others standing for what you say you want. Even if you are only reporting in to them, this can help you to consistently do what you say you will. Even better is if you can find a person or persons who will tell you when they see you slacking or giving up and who will call you on your excuses and stories! In addition to accountability partners, surround yourself with people who support you in your goals. Tell them what you are up to and talk about it a lot. Ask for what you need. A coach is invaluable here because she is trained in accountability and listening for non-productive stories and excuses.
4. Take action daily. The only way to get what you want is through action. Declare on a regular basis (ex.: each week), preferably out loud and to other people; and take action toward your declarations daily. And be sure you are stretching!
5. Repeat. When you get to your end date, close down (using the above process) and set a new goal, working toward it diligently, and closing down when your end date comes.
Formula for Success
1. Clearly state what you want.
2. Have an end date.
3. Get accountability partners.
4. Take action daily.
5. On the projected date of completion, close down.
- Acknowledge and set dates for incompletes (if any) to be complete
- Acknowledge and discard the “junk” (if any)
- Acknowledge yourself
5. Begin again – what’s next?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
In honor of the upcoming year and all the possibilities it holds, I am offering two gifts to you:
1. If you contact me by the end of this year, I will set a time for you to have a free strategic planning session with me in the beginning of 2013. In this session, we will look at where you want to go and how you can best get there. What a great way to start the year.
2. Additionally, because this was so popular last year, I am again offering four months of coaching at the price of three. If you sign up with me by the end of the year (or call and say you are interested in this offer), you will receive a free month of coaching when you buy 3 months at the regular price. You must claim this opportunity by contacting me before the end of the year.