I love complex processes. I really do. There’s just something about the intricacies of a large spreadsheet that can really get my brain going, and I can spend lots of time deep in an analysis for financial questions.
Yet, when I tried to apply the same level of detail to my past goal-setting, it never worked out the way that I hoped. I’ve tried spreadsheets and software and GANTT charts to try to lay out my goals in detailed sequences and it just doesn’t seem to work, and I’ve never understood why. A friend passed along James Clear’s excellent post on setting aside goals to focus on systems, and it sparked a new way of thinking for me in this year’s goal setting. Read it, it’s an excellent way to think about meaningful change.
With that in mind, I created my goal template this year in 3 simple pages that you can download below. Print them off, and take 15-20 minutes to jot down your thoughts on these critical questions: (Download a PDF copy of these questions - 2014 Goal Template)
Q1 - Reflect on the past year. What did you accomplish in 2013? Personally? Professionally? Give yourself some credit for your accomplishments. What were this year’s successes? Large and small, they all build towards your long-term vision.
Before you look forward towards your goals, have you looked back at the previous year at all? What accomplishments did you have in 2013? Put those down on paper, and remind the goal-setting part of your brain that you did accomplish some things last year. We’re all much better at picking out the things we didn’t accomplish from a list than the ones that we did, so let’s take a few minutes to counter that natural tendency and prime our goal-setting mechanisms.
Q2. What would you like to accomplish in 2014? Personally? Professionally?
Let your creative imagination have some space and think about what you’d like to have accomplished, when you’re sitting down at your desk in the first week of 2015, looking back at another successful year. Write those down and think about what it would feel like to have those accomplishments on your 2014 success list.
Q3. What do you need to do to accomplish your 2014 goals? Skills to Learn? Habits to Acquire?
Now, take page 1 and put it on your left, and page 2 and set it on your right. Place page 3 in the middle and let your brain make the connections from the positive past to the imagined future. What are the things you need to do to make those goals a reality? What habits and skills do you need to develop? What connections do you need to make? What activities should you try? Take the advice of James Clear that I linked to above, and focus on those systems and habits.
I love setting goals and thinking about the future, and my biggest area of improvement lies in building systems that support those goals and positive changes that I’d like to make. I’m focusing my energy on building positive habits that will lead to the goals that I’m seeking for myself, my family, and my business this year.
(Download a PDF copy of these questions - 2014 Goal Template)
Please share with me in the comments how this process worked for you, and if you have any questions or suggestions so we can all benefit from them!