New Year Resolutions: Revitalised!
Christmas decorations in August? Summer holiday bookings in January? Planning the winter ski in temperatures of 30°C? It might feel a tad unseasonable but it’s really never too early for New Year resolutions. Why? Well think about it? How well did you fare last year? Twixtmas mutterings: ‘it’s all going to be different next year’. New Year’s Eve public declarations: bold, intrepid, stalwart. The New Year dawns with bright, shiny, new intentions.
Swiftly succeeded by dreary January and back to business as usual.
But this year, we’re giving you a head start. Start planning your goals now and this time next year you could be looking at a whole new scene.
How was it for you?
The last year, that is. A struggle? A challenge? Progress against all the odds? Your achievements from this year (and, be honest now, lack of) are the very best place to start.
Take a piece of paper and draw a circle. Divide your circle into 5-8 segments and assign one to each key area of your life this year. Think holistically. Career and finances will be there of course, they’re essential to providing the means for us to simply exist and to live life the way we want to. But ‘living life the way we want to’ should also feature.
‘Balance. The Ultimate Goal.’ Ricky Lankford
Typically, balanced goals cover at least 5 key areas:
Personal goals. This is your chance to be selfish. What do you really want? What are your personal dreams? What do you want to be, to do, to feel? What makes you happy? Fulfilled? Proud?
Relationship goals. Encompassing your significant ‘other’, your family, friends, colleagues; these are stakeholders in your life – and you in theirs. Who is important to you? And who do you want to be important to? How do you want to be described? Remembered?
Health and Well-Being goals. Clearly a pre-cursor for the rest. Vital to your independence, range of choice and energy levels. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with some aesthetic objectives too!
Career goals. A big enabler for everything else, but is your current role meeting your personal needs? Are you playing to your strengths, feeling fulfilled, comfortable with the ethos of your organisation? These are all vital career goals. If you can’t figure out how your current role can meet these aspirations, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Use zero-based thinking to fathom what you would need to be doing to meet the credo ‘choose a job you like and you will never have to work a day in your life’ (Confucius)
Financial goals. Are you hitting your earnings aspirations? What do you need to meet personal needs and those of your stakeholders? And what contingency cover do you have in place to deal with the unanticipated?
The above are key to creating your holistic vision. But you can add more. Here are a few from my current clients:
- Personal development
- Fun and recreation
Using this year as your base, you’ve created your very own personal ‘Wheel of Life’. And having determined the important areas of your life you can now go ahead and assign yourself a score for each area. Here’s an example.
Ultimately you’ll measure your success in holistic terms: what you have achieved in life, in general. Yes your career success will be a key part of this, possibly a key enabler. But it won’t be the whole story. So now is the time to take a good look at the big picture and extend your goal setting to leverage much more extensively across the whole of your endeavours.
‘The best way to predict the future is to create it’ Jason Kaufmann
With your Wheel of Life as your bedrock, describing your starting point, you can now go forth and set some sensible goals for the coming year.
‘But I just want to get a new job’, I hear you implore. Well as your coach, I’d challenge you with questions like:
- What will 'just getting a new job’ mean to you exactly?
- What do you want out of your new job?
- How will you know that it’s the right job?
- What salary and location are you seeking? What is your tolerance range here?
- When do you want to be in the new job?
- How will your new job prepare you for subsequent career moves?
- What actions will you undertake to find your new job?
- How much time will you spend on these activities?
- What’s your contingency plan if you can’t find what you want?..... and so on
Get the picture? What you really need to do is set yourself SMART goals. And before you groan at the thought of transferring the SMART goal model from your business life to your private life, let me tell you it really does work. I know. I’ve tested masses of goal setting models (and acronyms) and SMART just about encapsulates the all core elements you need.
For the uninitiated, let me recap what SMART stands for:
- S specific
- M easurable
- A chievable
- R ealistic
- T imeframed
Achievable and Realistic are pretty obvious, so I won't dwell on these. But let’s look at the other 3.
Specific. You can see where all those questions were leading now. What exactly are you looking for from your career move? How are you going to achieve this? How will you know when you’ve found the right job? Which brings us to the hard measures:
Measures. What does success look like on the job front? You need to paint a picture of a successful career move so you can make a proper, systematic assessment of your progress at key milestones.
Timeframed. This one is vital. Yes you need an ultimate target date. 'I want to be in a new position by 31 December next year'. But don't forget all the journey goals along the way. You should set yourself monthly or even weekly goals, which then become realistic steps towards achieving that big destination goal.
So you see, this all adds up to rather more than a hastily muttered ‘I’m making a New Year resolution to get a new job’.
Turn New Year Resolutions into proper goals and access one of the most simple and underused success tools. Goal setting, quite simply, will immediately and directly increase the probability of your success. Frankly, if you don’t set goals, you are quite literally leaving money on the table.
Get started now; start reviewing your results from this year and you’ll meet the coming year with a much stronger armoury at your disposal.
This article was written by Carol McLachlan exclusively for CareersinAudit.com.
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