I love the holiday season for so many reasons. There are parties and cultural events to attend, the weather is cooler (which is great especially living here in the Sunshine State), people are nicer, and I get to spend quality time with my family. However, the biggest reason I love this time of year is because I get to prepare for a fresh start. I get excited about the prospects of a new year. I begin evaluating how my year has gone and decide what I want to do differently. It’s also a time where I set goals for the upcoming year and create action plans. I stay away from resolutions because they don’t have any action plans. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish something new, it will never get done. If you are like me, the following tips will help you generate goals for the New Year and a plan to achieve them.
- If you don’t already have one, write a personal vision statement. Just as companies and organizations have vision statements, you should have a personal vision statement. Your vision statement simply describes what you want to achieve in the future. By thinking about it, you create a mental picture of what you want. Writing it down gives you a reference point and helps you to set your boundaries. If you do have one, revisit it. Make sure it still aligns with where you would like to go. Our priorities tend to shift at different stages of life. So should your personal vision statement.
- Write a mission statement. You might think this is unnecessary since you have already written a vision statement, however, a mission statement deals with the here and now versus the future. It helps to define how you will achieve your vision. Whereas, the vision statement looks down the line 5 – 10 years from now. You mission statement should define what you do, how you do what you do and who you do it for, as well as, the benefit.
- Set your goals for the year. Setting goals moves your vision from something intangible to something tangible. Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to guide you in your goal setting. S – specific, M – measurable, A – attainable, R – relevant/rewarding, and T – time bound. A good example of a SMART goal is “I will save $1000 by December 31, 2017 to help me feel more financially secure.” Including all of these elements in your goal ensures clarity of what you plan to do.
- Create action steps. Have you ever heard the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” That’s what an action step is. It is one small step towards your larger goal. It simply breaks down your goal in to more manageable pieces. By identifying action steps, we are better able to anticipate the future and this gives us a sense of control. Make sure they are concrete and comprehensive. Each step should explain what is to happen, who will do the actions, how long will the actions take place and what resources are needed.
- Plan for obstacles. Before you get started working towards your goals you should think about what things might come up to derail your goal. Once you have identified them, you can plan ahead for them. That way if they do come up you already know how to handle them rather than trying to come up with a solution when you are under pressure. Knowing advance how you will deal with obstacles reduces the anxiety that can come along with roadblocks.
While drawing up your goals and action plan, make sure you stretch yourself. It’s okay to set lofty goals as long as they are possible. Setting a goal to save $10,000 in 1 week is definitely a lofty goal, but it is not really possible, unless of course your income is substantially more than that on a weekly basis or are coming into a large sum of money in that period of time. I don’t know who said it but one of my favorite quotes is “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.” By making a plan, you can take those big dreams of yours and turn them into a reality. May you have a prosperous New Year!