By Mike Spille (Flickr: CrossingFinishLine) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mike Spille (Flickr: CrossingFinishLine) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a new year and a great opportunity to set some goals for the coming months. We should all be assessing and setting our goals on a regular basis with some regular self-reflection, but if you’re looking to take on a new challenge, there’s no time like the present! It’s easy to get excited about a new goal but after a few weeks lose momentum on it. Here are some tips to setting effective goals and positioning yourself to achieve them successfully:

  1. Goals should be achievable. There’s a difference between achievable and “realistic”. If someone tells you that your goal isn’t “realistic” they’re probably trying to spare you the disappointment if you don’t achieve it. Don’t worry if your goal is hard to reach, just make sure it is achievable. A goal that breaks the laws of physics may not be achievable, but a goal that might require you to raise a large amount of resources in a short time is certainly achievable, although it may be difficult.
  2. Determine the end state you want to achieve. It should be clearly defined so that you will know when you’ve achieved it. Vague, open-ended goals can leave you drifting without ever making progress. It’s better set multiple narrow goals with clear definitions of success than to set a broad goal you may never know if you achieve.
  3. Set the timeline for achieving your desired end state.
  4. Create a method for measuring your progress based on the end state and take measurements regularly. Setting intermediate objectives can be a good way to chart your progress towards reaching your goal.
  5. Develop specific actions you will take to achieve your goal. Set aside the time in your schedule to do them. Use your calendar, apps or other tools to help build the habit of performing these actions when they need to be done.
  6. Track your progress according to your method and regularly assess how well doing. If you’re not making progress at the desired rate you may need to adjust your specific actions to speed your progress, or adjust your timeline to match your current pace of progress.

It’s a great thing to have multiple goals in your life, but keep in mind the amount of time you have to spend on achieving your goals. I have a slightly bad habit of setting too many goals for myself and not being able to devote enough time to them all. When I find that happening, I prioritize my goals and put one aside until I can devote the time to it so that I can achieve it to a degree of satisfaction I am happy with.

Finally, keep your goal in mind as you go through your daily business. Assess if your daily actions and decisions are contributing to meeting that goal, or hindering it? Are you spending your time on things that are taking time or effort away from meeting that goal?

The best part of setting a goal is when you achieve it. Not only do you get the pride and satisfaction of achieving something that was important to you, you get to set a new goal and take on a new challenge!

What’s your goal for 2014?

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