Setting Goals and Planning For 2011

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Photo via Flickr by www.empapers.comIt’s that time of year when the businesses of all shapes and sizes start planning for the coming year. David Siteman Garland from The Rise to The Top tweeted a few weeks ago that he was booking engagements and working on his plans for 2011, as are so many others.

It’s one thing to set goals, but entirely another to take meaningful daily steps toward achieving them. Writing them down isn’t enough – you have to put in the work of actually engaging in meaningful work toward achieving them. Early this year I came across Chris Guillebeau’s annual review post and one of the things that stuck out to me was how he set up quarterly reviews to evaluate his progress.

I bring all this up because I’ve been going over my goals looking to see what’s worked well and what needs improvement. I’ve found that it’s crucial to periodically take stock of what you’re working towards and find out where you’re at along the way. Things will change – things that are important to you at the time may change quite a bit as you progress through the year.

This is the first in a three part series I’m doing on how I work with goals and planning. None of this is anything I’ve created, but it’s all proved very helpful to me as I try to live on purpose. Brian Tracy has written about goals and goal setting and much of what I’ve learned has come from him. Here are a few principles I use to guide my goal setting and planning process

My Goal Setting Guidelines

Your goals and values must match. You’ll find out quickly if one or the other are in conflict with each other. It’s funny how you can tell this and I learned this the hard way. Ambition is weak when there is no meaningful purpose behind it. Simply put, you won’t have the motivation or burning desire to achieve goals that aren’t congruent with your values and you won’t achieve your goals. Even if you do, the satisfaction will be missing because it’s not aligned with who you really are and what’s really important to you.

Find your area of excellence.

Do you know what it is? What are you really good at that makes you unique? Find it and develop it to develop your full potential then commit to it. If you struggle with this look under your own feet as pointed out in the “Acres of Diamonds” story. And don’t forget that opportunities come dressed in work clothes and are disguised as hard work and often go unrecognized by many. Like Gary V. points out, willingness to work hard is an essential element of “crushing it”.

Make sure that your goals are balanced.

You need a variety of goals in each of the six main areas of your life:

  • Spiritual – Your relationship with God
  • Family – your relationship with your spouse and children
  • Financial – Your career and economic well-being
  • Mental – Your education
  • Social – Your relationships
  • Physical – Your health and fitness

Set two to three goals that you’re working on in each area at a time.

Some prefer that all your goals are SMART goals, but I think that there is room for qualitative goals as well, such as learning patience or humility. Qualitative goals are great to keep in mind as you’re working on your quantitative goals as they’ll usually be instrumental in helping you along the way.

Set your Major Definite Purpose

Set your major definite purpose your number one, most important master goal. There can be only one at any given time. It’s a mid to long-term goal and the sum of all your other goals. For instance mine is:

“Become financially secure – I am getting out of debt completely, amassing savings and providing stability for my family, and living by sound financial and budgeting principles”

All the other goals are intermediary steps along the path to achieve this one master goal. All my goals regarding my career, my aspirations, my family, my relationships, etc. all are sub-goals that work toward my major definite purpose. Once that goal is achieved, then it will be time to set another one and start working toward that.

Counting the Cost

I think that one of the most important aspects of goal setting is thinking through what you’re willing to do and how far you’re willing to go to see your goals realized. Let there be no doubt in your mind that there will come times when you question whether or not it’s worth it or not. You have to remember, though what the ultimate realization of that goal looks like and why it is that you’re doing it. Remember that point above about your goals matching your values? This is where the rubber meets the road. Do you want it badly enough, and are you willing to pay the price to get it?