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New Year, Time for New Goals – a 7-Step Program
I like to think if you distilled down what my colleagues and I do for a living, it would be classified as dream makers. If you further break down how one accomplishes their dreams it would be by identifying long-term goals they’d like to achieve. For some, that might be buying a boat or a beach home. For others, it may be to live a dignified retirement or send their kids to college. Regardless, these are your goals and thus some of the most innate and personal things you own as they are uniquely yours.
I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to spend a lot of time getting pretty good at identifying, setting, and realizing goals. I get to do this every day for my clients and friends, I’ve done this for over a decade at our firm, and personally, I run through this exercise as well. Now, I am clearly no genius, but I’ve worked with many coaches, consultants, and people I really admire in this space who I believe have made me pretty decent at the goal process.
With all that said and the beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d take this opportunity to pass along what I’ve learned to help you achieve your goals, regardless of how big or small.
Step 1: Identify your goals–
This is an obvious step. Think big if you will as that distinguishes a goal from a want. I want to take my family to Aruba this year, my goal is to someday have two paid-off homes in retirement. I find it very important here to be as specific as possible.
Don’t say I want to retire at 62. Rather say, I’d like to retire at 62 and have my homes, one in Jersey and one in Florida, paid for. I want to be around my kids and grandchildren and help them with their families. I want to spend half of my retirement months in Florida and half in XYZ. You get the point, be as specific as possible so these goals become yours, not some jumbled cliché.
Step 2: Write down your goals–
You can’t fully absorb a goal if it lives in your head. Additionally, no one, including yourself, can hold you accountable for that goal if it spends all its time between your ears. There is something powerful about the exercise of writing things down. It connects the intangible and the tangible. It will serve as inspiration, motivation, and clarity on your goals. Now that it is written down put it some place where you see it frequently. No benefit in writing down a goal and tucking it in the bottom of your sock drawer.
Step 3: Create an action plan–
For this, it is very important to think in 12-month and 3-month increments. Hopefully, your goals will be lofty and exciting to you. Now that it is written down, and you’ve spent a good amount of time ruminating on your goals, it becomes critical to start action.
When thinking about an action plan create what needs to happen over the next year so that you are progressing in line with your goals. Then break that down into 3 month focus plans of what needs to get done. For instance, let’s say you want to run a marathon (for some insane reason). Well, you can’t simply wake up and run 26.2 miles, unless you are a freak of nature. Instead, you want to say in the next 3 months I need to get up to 6 miles, and to do that I need a weekly plan of X. This becomes your sole focus.
Step 4: Find a coach-
For any serious goal to be accomplished it rarely happens in a vacuum. As “they” say it takes a village. Who will be in your village to help keep you on track, pump you up and pick you up when you are down, and celebrate your successes? This is a critical component to goal achieving. It can be your spouse, friend, life coach, financial advisor, specific expert, or simply anyone who will be there when you start and when you finish encouraging you along the way.
Step 5: Revisit and reset–
Step 3 was about setting smaller goals that help you on your way to larger goals. Every 3 months is a good cadence to revisit how you are doing on your 3-month goals. If you are on track for your 3 months, then that means you are on track for your 1 year, and if you are on track for your 1 year that means you are on track in total. Thus, it is critical to set aside some time every quarter to level set and create that next 3-month goal. Every year, however, you must create your new annual goal so that you can back into your next 4 quarters goals.
Step 6: Remove obstacles–
I love this step and advice as it is so critical to your success and often missed. Accomplishing a goal means you are constantly evolving as a person. You are evolving forward in so many facets of your life and candidly you must make strides and changes.
One of the key elements to growth and evolution is to get rid of the old you in some regard. Think of a snake or a snail. They must shed their skin/shell to continually grow. For you to grow, what do you need to shed? You only have so many hours in a day, and if you are spending your time doing exactly what you did prior, you’ll never achieve these goals. So, annually look at what needs to be removed from your plate so you can focus more and more on accomplishing your goals.
Step 7: Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate–
Perhaps the most important step of them all, YOU DID IT! All too often I see people not celebrating their successes. You should be super proud of what you did. It took resolve, dedication, failure, and at last success. Don’t downplay it, rather scream from the mountaintop and open a super expensive bottle of wine. Basically, you’ve done what not many have and should revel in your accolades.
Perhaps you are already making progress towards your goal, or have yet to even start thinking about them. Regardless, you can pick up or go back and fix any steps you haven’t addressed. I’ve used this general principle for many years and all I can say is the results speak for themselves. I am very confident that if you mimic this simple plan, you too can achieve what your little heart desires. Oh, and if you need someone to celebrate with, I am always down to help share a nice bottle of wine.
Make the year great and as always stay wealthy, healthy, and happy.