By H. Jude Boudreaux
Setting goals for a new year can feel overwhelming. We all know that resolutions don’t last, but we also feel the energy that comes with a new year of possibilities.
Here’s a clearer path for setting and reaching your goals.
I love complex processes. Intricacies of a large spreadsheet really get my brain going and I can spend lots of time deeply analyzing financial questions.
When I try to apply the same level of study to setting my goals, it never works out. I try spreadsheets and software and Gantt charts to lay out my goals in detailed sequences and it just doesn’t click. I never understand why.
A friend passed along personal coach James Clear’s excellent post on setting aside goals to focus on systems in which he discusses the different between goals and systems:
“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship,” Clear writes. “Your system is what your team does at practice each day. If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book and your system the writing schedule you follow each week. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million-dollar business and your system your sales and marketing.
“Now for the really interesting question,” he adds. “If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?”
Yes, says Clear, who sparks new thinking in me regarding this year’s goal setting. I created my own goal-setting template with just three short sets of questions:
What did you accomplish in 2015? Personally? Professionally? What were the year’s successes?
Large and small, all your successes build toward your long-term vision. Put your achievements on paper and remind yourself what you did accomplish last year. We all dwell on what we didn’t accomplish more than on what we did, so take a few minutes to counter that natural tendency and prime your goal-setting mechanisms.
What would you like to accomplish in 2016? Personally? Professionally?
Give your imagination some space and think about what you want done by the time you sit down at your desk in the first week of 2017 and look back at another successful year. Write down these 2016 goals and think about how you’ll feel when those turn into accomplishments on this year’s success list.
What do you need to do to accomplish your 2016 goals? Skills to Learn? Habits to acquire?
Put the first page on your left and put the second page on your right. Place the third page, with these questions, in the middle and let your brain connect your positive past to your envisioned future. What must you do to make those goals reality?
What habits and skills do you need to develop? What connections do you need to make? What activities should you try? Like Clear advises, focus on systems and habits.
I love setting goals and thinking about the future; my biggest area of recent improvement is building systems that support those goals and the positive changes I want to make. Focus on building positive habits toward the goals that you too seek for yourself, your family and your business.
H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP, is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Upperline Financial Planning based in New Orleans.
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