No matter how you feel about resolutions, the new year brings a new opportunity for change. It offers a proverbial “clean slate,” full of possibility, and gives us a sense of hope for the future with an opportunity to better ourselves.
Making changes is easy in theory. Sticking to these changes, however, is the real challenge. We’ve asked some of our highly experienced AceUp coaches for tips on how to set and manage realistic goals in the new year.
Learning goals invite curiosity, exploration, and tenacity, and behaviors that lead to thriving and achieving because failure is viewed as an opportunity to iterate and try again.
In Carol Dweck’s research on a growth mindset, she observed that learning goals inspired a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than performance goals. Performance-dominant goals lead to self-protective behaviors because failure becomes personal. This can play out by not taking risks, competing with other team members, and lack of accountability.
On the other hand, learning goals invite curiosity, exploration, and tenacity, and behaviors that lead to thriving and achieving because failure is viewed as an opportunity to iterate and try again. It is challenging in a business environment to set only learning goals. To combine learning goals into performance goals, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of goals are you setting for yourself and your team? Is learning a core aspect or is it predominantly performance-oriented?
- What learning was missed last year that impacted business outcomes?
- In what ways can you instill learning as a core aspect of goal outcomes?
- If that’s not possible, what would it look like to incorporate learning as the quality measure for goal attainment?
Your goals should be all about your life and journey, not what somebody else wants you to be.
Dr. Teri Baydar
Three big mistakes are often made when designing new year’s goals:
- Thinking short-term rather than long-term
- Designing those goals around somebody else’s values or needs
- Not keeping it real and grounded in self-love and care
When designing your new year goals, try to think in terms of the long-term bigger picture. Where do you want to be in three years with this goal and how does it impact the parts of your life? Too often, we design our goals with a quick fix in mind and are unrealistic. This leads to failure and disappointment because we are not taking into consideration our limitations as human beings and trying to squeeze ourselves into being something we are not naturally in alignment with our inner journey.
Your goals should be all about your life and journey, not what somebody else wants you to be. It is hard to resist the urge to please others in order to receive their validation and approval. Breakaway and think about the achievements, even small ones, that would make YOUR life better.
Design goals where you can enjoy the journey as well and the later results. If you are setting goals that make you a little uncomfortable, that is a sign you are pushing some boundaries and growing. If you are in pain, you are designing goals that are not appropriate for where you are in the subject matter at hand. BE KIND to yourself so you can enjoy the whole process of growth and evolution.
Identifying the right level of challenge for a new year’s goal is vital to successful goal-setting.
The new year is a natural time to reflect back on what worked and didn’t work in the previous year, and look forward to creating a better year ahead. After reflecting on the last year, I have my clients visualize what they want for themselves and their organizations for the new year. It’s important that they picture not just the outcomes they want, but the way they want to “be” as leaders as they work to realize those outcomes. Then we walk through what might get in the way of them achieving their goals, and what will help them.
A key success factor in setting goals for the new year is identifying the right degree of difficulty for each goal. Drawing upon the work of David C. McClelland and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I help my clients identify goals that they experience as being “challenging but realistic” and where they have both the skill and passion for achieving that goal. Identifying the right level of challenge for a new year’s goal is vital to successful goal-setting.
Key boxes to check off: “challenging but realistic” and using skills in an area of passion!
Understanding why you have set these goals and their outcome will deepen your commitment to achieving them.
As we embark upon the new year, setting goals, both personal and professional, has become a customary practice for many of us.
Setting SMART goals is a great method to do so.
- Specific (being clear and specific makes goals and actions easier to achieve - and start!)
- Measurable (helps you know when a goal or action is complete and measure progress)
- Actionable (ensures you have direct control over the actions needed to achieve the goal)
- Realistic (avoid overwhelm and unnecessary stress and frustration by making the goal realistic)
- Timebound (helps us stay focused and motivated, inspiring us with a date to work towards)
However, understanding why you have set these goals and their outcome will deepen your commitment to achieving them. Here are some questions to ask yourself once you have established your SMART goals:
- Why am I doing this?
- What outcomes am I looking for? What will 'come out' once this goal is complete?
- What are the benefits to me and my career?
- How will my life and/or career be different when this is complete?
Check-in with yourself (and your coach) every quarter on your SMART goal progress and adjust as necessary.
An accountability partner will help you by encouraging you when things are not working out as you had planned.
This is the time of year when many of us set goals for ourselves and for our coaching clients. Setting goals is actually the easy part. It’s managing and executing those goals that are a challenge. Who hasn’t been determined to improve their work/life balance as their New Year’s resolution? A noble goal for sure, but usually not sustainable unless we act consciously and deliberately.
We have a natural resistance to change and our subconsciously competing priorities seem to get in the way. So how can we prepare ourselves and our coaching clients to succeed? How can we make those goals more “sticky”?
- The goals need to be realistic and achievable. Make them simple!
- Ensure that there is a “win” at the end. There needs to be a “tangible” benefit that is clearly defined (i.e., if I spend less time at work, I’ll be able to take a vacation to Italy with my family).
- Make them measurable, with specific milestones and KPIs. You won’t achieve something you can’t measure. The milestones also help you celebrate the interval accomplishments.
Finally, make your goals public and don’t keep them a secret. An accountability partner will help you by encouraging you when things are not working out as you had planned. So, go ahead and plan for something new for 2022, but make sure you set yourself up for success. Happy New Year!