Goal Getting: Strategies to Move Ahead | Lean In Canada

Signed up for a new gym membership? Check. Eating clean? Trying. Get a new gig? I can’t even start to think about that. Saving more? Well I just bought another two sweaters that I don’t need – and its only February. New year means new you, right? A new year is a great moment to take a step back, reflect on the past year, and think forward to what you want to achieve this year. You may have great ambitions, and because of that, you walk into the new year ready to kick some resolution butt. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

New Year’s Resolutions are often lofty goals, and after a couple of months, most people find themselves off track. If you are one of those people who struggle with goals, you are not alone. Did you know that only about 8% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually achieve them? Well – that is because change is hard; committing to change is even harder; and acting on change is the hardest. BUT…DO NOT FRET! If you prepare for your resolutions in the right way, you will be able to mark those resolutions as complete. It’s a great feeling [Insert happy dance here]!

So how do you achieve New Year’s Resolution success? Three easy steps – that’s how. It’s all about reflecting on your motivation to achieve your goal, making your goal SMART, and developing your action plan. Let’s do this.

Step 1: Assess Your Motivation

Change is a process. Some people are ready to make a change right away, some people are not. And if you aren’t ready, that’s okay. Always start with a goal you feel confident you can achieve. That’s because if you achieve that goal, you have now built the confidence to tackle others you may not have been ready to start with. TIP – when you are starting to think about how ready you are to make a change, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 how confident you feel you can achieve it. If your response is lower on the scale, you may want to choose another goal you feel better about.

Once you decide if you are ready, ask yourself – why? Why is it important for me to achieve this goal? If you don’t make an emotional connection to your goal, it will be hard for you to stick with it. For example- I really want to cut down on the sugar in my diet. Why is this important to me? Well, my mom has diabetes, and I want to help support her in managing her disease, but I also want to work on prevention for myself. An emotional connection to your goal can be a powerful motivator.

Step 2: Outline Your SMART Goal

Setting a vague resolution can be the worst thing you do. For example – I will save money this year. This is extremely unclear isn’t it. How can you make this goal stronger and set yourself up for success? Get yourself a SMART goal! SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Make sure you can fit your goal into each one of these categories. So, you want to save money this year? A SMART goal would be: I will save $1200 this year by setting up monthly automatic transfers of $100 from my chequing account to my savings account. TIP – Write your goal down! Statistics show people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them.

Step 3: Develop Your Action Plan

So now that you are motivated, and you have set up a clearly defined goal, it’s time to act. Try asking yourself – what do I need to do to achieve this goal? If your goal is to get a new job this year, it’s time to take some steps towards that. This could include setting up job alerts, working on your resume, talking to your mentor, networking with people in the industry you want to work in.

But hold up – it’s not always smooth sailing through this process. So at this point, you should explore barriers to your goal. If you prepare for those barriers, they are less likely to deter you from your goal. Lastly, ask for support. Look around at your network to see who can support you and hold you accountable as you work towards this new chapter. TIP- Set a reward. It does not have to be tangible (or it can be), but you are working hard, you deserve it to acknowledge this and give yourself a pat on the back.

New Year’s Resolutions, and goal setting in general, is a process. If you set a goal, your chances of success are already increased. You can elevate your probability of success if you define what you want to achieve and why, define the steps to achieve it, and put in some good old fashion hard work. Now not only are you goal setting, but you are goal getting. Go get ‘em.

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