By now, you’ve likely already had more than one conversation about the new year and goal setting. January can be a perfect time to stop, adjust, and start with a clean slate. The new calendar typically marks a time of change and renewal for everyone. Resolutions, goals, and new targets fill our brains and our to-do lists. It can be overwhelming. It’s okay to take a minute and think about your goals for this year. Don’t fret over not starting on January 1. There is nothing wrong with January 15 or even later if that suits you.
Edwin Locke, researcher and founder of goal setting theory, proposed that there are five basic principles of goal setting: clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback, and task complexity. As you set your goals for 2020, it might be worth examining these five principles more closely.
Why Do We Set Goals?
So much of our work and personal lives are tasked-based. It only makes sense that setting goals gives us comfort, motivation, and a sense of accomplishment. Further, studies continue to prove that people who understand goal setting and commit to those goals are more productive, more satisfied in their personal and professional lives, and more efficient overall.
But it’s not just setting a goal and moving on. These happy and efficient people are most commonly setting a goal and doing some homework. When placing a target, take some time to investigate and understand the “why” and the “how.”
Before you can settle on the exact goal, you should have a clear understanding of why this is your goal. The “why” becomes a pivotal piece to understanding your priorities and your motivation. The “why” is also a good check that your goals align with you and your values.
Break your big goal down into digestible pieces. Your step by step plan is the “how.” Remember, goals take time. Set realistic milestones and measure your progress to keep motivated. Setting a benchmark and measuring progress will keep you moving forward.
As your goals come into focus, consider adding some behavioral guidelines that align with your target. Good habits can lead you towards your goal faster than you think. As a rudimentary example: imagine that you are usually late to work. Change your morning routine and develop a habit that will put you at work on time. Similarly, work on habits and behaviors that will help you to reach your personal and professional goals.
Follow Up and Feedback
Now is the time to add your follow up on the calendar. Not only will this provide you and your team with crucial feedback, but it will chart accountability for everyone. There is little point in a goal setting if we are not held accountable for progress.
Don’t let the date on the calendar rush you into goal setting or planning. Take your time and set goals that are engaging and challenging, and draft a sustainable plan. These goals will be with you all year and should match your values personally and professionally. Furthermore, slow down – be patient with yourself and set goals you can get done. Creating some momentum can help you and your team capture more of wave. You can read more about Locke’s goal-setting theory here.
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