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Goal Setting for the New Year

accountability goal setting professional development Dec 14, 2020

For many of us, this week is the last full week of work for 2020 as we prepare for the holiday season. If you haven’t taken some time to evaluate your successes and failures, now is the time to reflect and start goal setting for 2021. Many times we wait until the new year begins to start mapping out what we want to accomplish. But by starting in December, you allow yourself to hit the ground running in the new year. 

Goal setting isn’t just about listing out what you want to accomplish. It’s about getting into the details. What do you need to do consistently to achieve your goals? Who will hold you accountable? What’s the timeline you will create to achieve them? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you approach your goals for the new year. 

Reflect and grow.

The first step to creating future goals is to look at what you have accomplished this year. We’ve talked about celebrating your wins, which is an important part of the process. Reflect on the year. What changes did you make that worked? How did you pivot? What did NOT work? It’s important to understand both your successes and failures so that you can adjust and implement more effectively next year. 

Start by creating a list of your successes from the year. What did you do to make that happen? What systems helped you achieve that? Were there any distractions you had to eliminate? Then flip the script and look at what was a failure. What didn’t you do that set you behind the curve? Is there anything you could have done differently to change the outcome? These are the things you’ll take into consideration when planning for the next 12 months. 

Start at the finish line. 

We’ve talked about rear view vision on the blog before - the idea of placing yourself in the future having already accomplished your goals. Imagine it’s 1 year from today. Where are you? What are you doing? Write that down as if it is December 2021 and all your goals have already been accomplished. What have you done? How did you do it? 

Then work backwards. Starting from December 2021, use the same concept of rear view vision to visualize what you had achieved by September 2021, June 2021, and March 2021. Then envision what you accomplished by the end of January 2021. Now you have more of a timeline for your goals that you can start to work towards every week. This timeline makes your goals more realistic and attainable because you’ve started to break them down. 

Be specific. 

Once you have your goals mapped out in that year long timeline, start to specify each goal a bit more. Using the SMART goals concept (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely), take each chunk of your timeline and make sure each aspect applies. For example, if one of your goals is to create a career path in sports media, how many contacts will you reach out to in that area to intentionally build relationships? How often will you spend time on outreach each week? Being specific helps you stay on track and recognize your progress. 

Consistency is key.

When you create your SMART goals, it’s important to build in a level of consistency. Whether it’s weekly, daily or some other rhythm that works for you, make sure you are breaking those big goals down into bite sized chunks that you can tackle consistently. Many times we feel like progress has to happen overnight, but the biggest successes are years of consistent effort in the making. Create a schedule for spending time on the to-dos you need to check off the list. Baby steps are important - this doesn’t have to be a major life change. Consistency is not always easy to jump into. Be forgiving of yourself if you get off track. 

Build in accountability. 

Creating accountability is the key to maintaining efforts towards your progress. You may write your goals down and keep them in front of you or you may have others you trust support you and check in. Whatever you prefer, make sure you have a system of accountability in place to hold you responsible for getting things done. 

Maybe you set a deadline with someone else, i.e., “I will send this to you by Friday” to make sure you don’t slack on crossing off your list. Or perhaps you reward yourself when your to-dos or a specific amount of progress towards your goals are achieved. By creating accountability you can take some of the pressure off of yourself. 

No matter what you want to achieve in the new year, remember that we can’t do everything all at once. Focus on those things that you really want to accomplish and set your intention on consistent actions towards reaching those goals.