The end of the year is the perfect time to set aside a few hours each week for dreaming, planning, and laying out the personal and professional possibilities in the new year to come. When I set out to write this article, I planned to start drafting two weeks before I even put one word down. I thought about how the article would flow and the examples I would share to explain why I feel so passionate for something that so many people find themselves screaming, crying, and running away from – setting multi-tiered goals. And like clockwork, I always found an excuse to put off the work "until tomorrow." But what happens when tomorrow finally comes and you must pay the debt with little to no figurative funds? You must strap in and hope that the pre-planning work you have done has paid off, because part of being ready to jump into action at the drop of a hat comes from setting expectations and designing a sustainable path that is replicable even on the days when you just do not want to do anything.
While prioritizing goal setting might seem obvious to anyone who checks in with a manager or has direct reports, taking the time to think about what those goals could and should be and the steps you can take to achieve them before speaking with your accountability partner, or "accountabilibud," is a crucial first step to success. Take advantage of the eerily quiet December inbox by jotting down three to five areas where you would like to see improvement or continued growth.
Setting yourself up for success can feel daunting, so to make it feel easier, consider breaking up the goals or areas for growth into tiered groups: Personal, Professional, Long Term, Short Term, etc. Do you have personal goals mixed in there with your professional ones? Separate them out into categories for easy reference and tracking and be sure to categorize the ones you think need longer time to cook as "Long Term." Those you can achieve quickly, your "Short Term" goals, will give you a quick boost of positivity. This labeling comes in handy when deciding between identifying something as a yearlong goal that requires constant nurturing, or a goal that you can report back mid-year on its progress. I like to have one hefty Short Term goal on my list since it always feels great to tackle a challenge quickly. Successfully tackling a short-term goal motivates us to keep going and chug along with the goals that are more time consuming.
Finally, make sure to celebrate your successes along the way, and be open to how your goals could change. Planning and forecasting take years of tweaking and adjusting, so be gracious with yourself when time runs short on one of your goals, or you realize you need to drop something to add another goal in its place. Goals can sometimes be fluid, especially when circumstances change at work or in your personal life. It is important to treat yourself kindly when you feel behind and to celebrate the wins when they come your way. Having someone you can share your wins and losses with will also help you stay on track, be it a coworker, a friend, or a family member. Select this person wisely since they may hold you accountable in ways you do not expect.
You are the keeper of your success in 2023, and this December you deserve to experience the inner peace from pre-planning and setting your goals before January arrives.