Be S.M.A.R.T! Start Planning for 2018 NOW!
How did the Holidays roll around so fast this year?! I can’t believe I’m already sharing Christmas lists with my family, but then we have our big Holiday celebration on December 16th … Where did the time go?
With the days getting shorter as the Winter Solstice approaches, it’s time for reflection, assessment, wrapping up of the old year, and gestating ideas for the New Year. It’s best to take an hour or two to do this BEFORE the hustle and bustle of the Holidays. This is the best time to review what you’ve accomplished this year, and begin setting your goals and objectives for next year.
As crazy busy as the Holidays can get, taking time out to thoughtfully assess my successes, my incompletes, what I can let go of, and what I want to accomplish in the New Year helps me end the year with a sense of completion. It helps me stay grounded and focused during the whirlwind of activity and fun with family and friends at the holidays. Then when the New Year hits I can truly celebrate because I’ve already been gestating my goals and objectives. I know where I’m heading and what I need to do in the upcoming year.
I highly recommend this introspective practice of making plans for the New Year. The benefits you reap are much greater than the time it takes!
If you’re curious about the process, I’d love to share what was given to me by one of my mentors.
First, find some quiet time where you do nothing but reflect and think. For me, the best time is during meditation. You might prefer a leisurely walk along the beach or a hiking trail, or sitting quietly with a latte at a local coffee shop. Whatever works for you is great, but the idea is to set aside time to be alone with your thoughts.
Then let your mind float over what you have completed this year and fantasize about what you’d like to do next year. I’m reaching a point that if something feels too hard, or like too much work, I pass on it. Instead, let your mind float to those things you feel excited and enthusiastic about. You can tell what they are because you’ll start feeling energized and the juices will start flowing! I find that when I reach this stage I can’t wait until I can sit down at my computer, or with pen and paper, and start jotting down ideas!
This leads to the third step in the process: start putting those goals, projects and ideas on paper. Don’t worry about the order or time frame. At this point just do a ‘brain dump.’ Sometimes you might get it all down at once. Other times you might find that you’re updating, revising, expanding, and contracting your list over several days. It’s all good! You primary focus is to get down all the ideas and goals that feel exciting and energizing.
Once you have all your ideas down, then start organizing them into goals and the steps, or objectives, that need to be completed in order to achieve them. Oh! BTW they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals.
What? What’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal?
Specific – This means you should have a clear understanding of what it is that you will do and what the end product will look like. For example, last year my goal was to continue doing a weekly e-zine providing useful information to my following. A weekly e-zine is a specific goal, and the e-zine itself is the end product.
Measurable w/Measurement – This means you should have some idea as to whether you will meet the goal or not. For example, I’ve been about 90% successful in getting out a weekly ezine. Considering I’m human and have a busy schedule, I feel quite proud that I’ve been able to send out a weekly ezine almost every week during my second year of trying to execute this kind of an aggressive goal.
Achievable – This means that there is a high probability that you can be successful at achieving your goal. For example, since I’ve been 90% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine, then it was an achievable goal.
Relevant – This means that your goal should serve a purpose, or have an impact. For example, my purpose was to share useful information. Frequently I receive positive feedback from my readers which validates that my ezine has relevance.
Time-Oriented – This means, “When will you achieve this goal? What is the start and end date?” For example, the time-bound goal for my ezine was ‘weekly.’
Evaluating your goals to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. will help you stay practical and reasonable about what you can accomplish so you don’t fall victim to overwhelm and burn out, get sick, or give up!
Once you’ve evaluated your goals, then start organizing them into 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals. Now it’s time to begin identifying and scheduling weekly steps or objective. At this stage I tend to drill down the weekly objectives for just 3 months at a time. I always keep the larger perspective in mind, but I’ve found that ‘life happens while we’re busy making plans to do something else.’ Goals and objectives often need to be fine-tuned and re-evaluated as the year progresses. One year I had knee surgery, another year I fell in love (not a good excuse for being knocked off track, but I had fun!), and another year the recession hit. It’s important to keep some flexibility in your schedule so you can adapt and re-assess as needed.
Set a time to review your goals and objectives weekly. This will help you stay on track with the little objectives so you can hit your targeted big goals in a timely manner. Mondays are a great day to do this. It’s the first day of the week. A quick review of what’s on your schedule on Mondays will help you stay on track so you can have a productive week, and a prosperous year!
With everything else that you have on your schedule, I can hear many of you groaning about having one more thing to do! But I promise you, if you take time to do this, not only will you complete your year on a high, but you will ensure that you have a more successful, prosperous, and happier New Year.
If setting your goals and objectives for the New Year feels too overwhelming, then give me a call and schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to find out how I can help you get organized and on track for a prosperous 2018. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!