How many times have you started a new year by writing down goals and resolutions that will help you make it the best you’ve ever had? You are charged and excited to open a new chapter and explore new opportunities. However, a few days or weeks into the New Year, things don’t go as planned and you lose focus:
- You fall off the healthy eating and weight loss wagon and start eating unhealthy foods.
- Your marketing strategy fails, and it threatens your business goals for the year or
- You find yourself in an emotional crisis and end up spending all the savings you started with at the beginning of the year.
If you fall in these or other categories, you are not alone. Many people get excited about having the best year, but their dreams never come to fruition. But what if there was a way to plan the best year and actually make it happen? Guess what! There is. Here is a step by step guide to planning your best year ever and living up to your goals and desires.
1. Take Some Time to Review Last Year
The power of reflection before stepping into a new year cannot be overemphasized. Failure to look into and analyze the previous year only sets you up for failure. If you employed strategies that never worked last year, what will stop you from using the same methodologies if you don’t sit down and reflect? Or if you did things a certain way and the results were below satisfactory, how will you know to change tactics this year if you don’t think about last year?
Reflection is powerful. It gives you an opportunity to analyze the previous year: your actions, thoughts, mindset, achievements, and failures. What worked for you last year? Can you improve it this year to get even better results? What failures did you encounter? How did they come about? What mindset and thoughts informed your decisions and how did those choices turn out?
Write down the answers to each of these questions. With this understanding, you can scrape off tactics that didn’t work and embrace those that worked to improve outcomes in the New Year.
On a daily basis, I note everything down in a planner- how much time I spend each day, week and month, my daily activities, appointments, and etc. That way I can reflect back more easily and take inventory. If you don’t have a planner, now is the perfect time to get one.
2. Instead of Short-Term Goals, Do This…
Outlining your short-term goals is an excellent move as it allows you to stay focused in the present. For example, you may want to start a business this year, save more, enroll for higher education, travel, and so forth. However, also of importance is outlining your big life visions. What’s your long-term plan? You may want to grow your business into a national enterprise. You may be planning on investing in real estate or developing a new product. What’s your big vision?
Jotting down your big life visions helps you to stay focused on the bigger picture. Small achievements are great, but they can get you too absorbed and excited that you forget you still have a long way to go. Your business has increased its clientele base and annual revenue, that’s great. But don’t get too excited that you relax and forget you want to open branches in various cities in your state. The bigger goal “aka S.M.A.R.T. goal” keeps you working hard and smart even when you achieve your short-term goals, and this is the key to ultimate success in all subsequent years.
3. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Setting goals is one thing and setting smart ones is another. Goals that are not SMART bear no fruit, and it will be as if you wasted your time making them in the first place. So what are SMART goals?
• Specific: Specific goals are goals that are well-defined and clear. They offer concrete answers to questions. What do I want to accomplish? For example, your goal is to “optimize your business website for search engines.” Or you want to “start a healthy eating plan to lose weight.” Those are specific goals.
• Measurable: Your goals should answer the question, “How will you know that it’s done?” For example, you know that your site is optimized for SEO when your page ranks at the top on Google, you receive organic traffic, and conversion rates increase as a result. You know that your weight loss goals are accomplished when you shed off the 20 or 30 pounds you wanted.
• Achievable: Your goals should be feasible, acceptable, and action-oriented. Are your objectives relevant? Don’t set goals that cannot come to fruition.
• Realistic: Are your goals realistic? Do you have the ability, resources, knowledge, or experience to fulfill the objective? Create objectives that are relevant and can be achieved within the available time and resources.
• Time-Based: Always set objectives against a specific period. Give yourself enough time to accomplish the goal and be realistic. For example, don’t decide that you will lose 50 pounds in one week. That’s pretty unrealistic. Don’t give yourself too little or too much time as you’ll get no where closer to your goal.
Here are three examples of S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
- I want to lose 20 pounds in 4 months
- I want to launch a lifestyle blog and make $6,000 in the first year.
- I want to pay off my $1000 credit card debt in 6 months.
4. Understand Your Purpose aka Your Why
What’s your purpose? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Purpose gives you a reason. It is the driving force that provides the energy and motivation to want to plan the best year ever. It will avail the strength to continue pushing and shaking off discouragements even when things are tough. It will keep you grounded and focused. A purpose will stop you from getting immersed in the small wins and forgetting the bigger vision. Know your “why” and you will be able to plan the year right every New Year.
5. Create Actionable Steps to Achieve Success
You have reflected on past successes and failures, written down your big vision, set SMART goals, and understood your purpose. The next important step is to create actionable steps or “systems” to achieve your goals. Planning without action bears no results. Create actionable steps, outline how you will achieve the objectives, and align the resources required to achieve success.
Do you want to build an optimized business website? Take the step to create the site and hire SEO professionals to optimize it.
Do you want to start a business? Do so even if it means starting in your house or garage.
Do you want to lose weight? Create weight loss meal plans and enroll for a workout program.
Take action to make your goals come to reality.
You don’t have to set goals that fail even before the first quarter of the year anymore. Follow these simple yet powerful steps to plan out year and watch it come to be. Also, embrace the power of evaluation. After every few weeks or months, assess yourself to see how you are fairing. The year is long, and you always have time to tweak and improve strategies and systems that are not working. Don’t wait for failure to learn lessons — learn on the go and be flexible to changes that come your way.