Ah, the close of a year and start of another. A time to reflect and plan, and pick out those things that you hope to do in the coming trip around the sun.
In truth, very few people orient their lives around goals. But there is great power in naming, documenting, and planning out what you hope to achieve.
And so, the following 4 items are the things I hope to achieve in 2014.
- Write 4 or more blog posts per quarter.
- Create 3 or more training courses for WintellectNow.
- Give 2 or more talks at user groups and Code Camp
- Start 1 podcast.
If writing down goals were enough, we’d no doubt all be highly successful professionals. But action is required. I find that in order to be effective at moving towards my goals, I have to form a specific action plan that breaks out the endgame in to a series of measurable steps. Think of it like wanting to save $1,000. Will you be more successful if you set up an automatic draft that pulls $83.33 a month in to your savings account, or if you try to cram $1,000 worth of margin in to December’s budget? Here are some tips I use when creating action plans.
Look for equally sized units of effort
Just as in our savings example above, if you can break you goal in to equally sized steps, you may find them easier to achieve over and over, since after the first few times you’ll know what to expect.
Use your calendar
As a husband and parent, I have a finite amount of free time to work on extra-curricular professional development and hobbies. Add to the mix other activities like Netflix or hanging out with the guys, and the ability to routinely make progress can be easily thwarted. One method that my wife and I have adopted is to plan out the week ahead and agree on what nights we’ll watch TV, which nights will be used for individual projects, and what nights we have plans with others. This way, I know in advance when my working hours will occur, and I can prepare accordingly. Also, it helps avoid spousal neglect syndrome since we’ve pre-planned when we’ll each do our own thing.
Chart and share your progress
Studies have shown that sharing your progress and results with others can have a significant impact on the success of reaching your goals. As part of your action plan, identify the key items that can be reported out to a spouse, colleague, or friend. Invite them to hold you accountable to achieving your goals, and that inner pressure to impress will drive you towards results.
Goals are more than quick wins. They are the path to personal growth. So, raise a glass tonight to toast in the new year, but start tomorrow with a plan.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ogimogi/