Five Simple Tricks for Goal Setting in the New Year

By Karen Dwyer

Once again, the countdown to another year has begun. It’s time to turn the calendar to 2011.

Tradition suggests this is also the time of year to figuratively turn the page with a set of new year’s resolutions, objectives to be checked off your list of personal and professional goals.

Why Goals Matter

There’s no time like the new year to take stock of what you’ve already accomplished and what you’d like to do next. More than just going through the motions, setting realistic goals leads the way to personal growth. Honing down those processes in a focused way lets you work through each goal to arrive at a final result that should support something bigger than simply an item to be checked off your list.

Whether your aim is to sharpen your skills or achieve something unique, goals require commitment, perseverance and motivation – admirable qualities for any member of the work force. Job performance in the post-recession economy is sure to continue to be a key factor to personal and professional well-being, so having goals with measurable results may be more important now than ever.

Improving the Process

A better managed goal-planning process ensures that what you’re doing every day contributes to an ultimate result, so get a jumpstart on this year by keeping in mind the SMART goals system. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

One suggestion that can help is to create a goals notebook in which you can write out your new year’s resolutions and how you’ll achieve them. The notebook can be a great place to keep track of your progress.

Here are five simple tricks to make sure those same resolutions get crossed off the list:

> Define your goals. Make an actual list. Define what you’d like to achieve and put it in writing. Ask yourself, “What does success look like to me?” – and don’t skimp on the details. Create a clear mental picture that lends itself to positive visualization; you’ll have an image of success that can continue to inspire you.

> Describe why. It’s easier to give up on a process if you can’t remember why you started in the first place. List all of the possible benefits of achieving your goal. Save the list and refer to it throughout the goal-attainment process.

> Create a time line. Write yourself a roadmap that will lead you to your objective. Outline a series of short-term goals that bring long-term results. Create a time line and establish milestones you expect to reach along the way. Also, select small rewards for yourself to stay motivated upon completion of progress markers.

> Find support. Let others know what you’re working to achieve. Before December’s end, set up a schedule to talk regularly with friends, family members or co-workers who can encourage you. You’re more likely to succeed if you’re held accountable and can discuss any challenges with a mentor who can also help you find innovative ways to get overcome issues as you face them.

> Give yourself a Plan B. Identify the areas of your goal plan that may prove tiresome, frustrating or problematic. Select alternatives that will get you the same result. For example, if you’re trying to read a business book each week for the next year, plan to take a break and read a business blog or attend a lecture instead.

Seize the Day

Get a fresh start this new year by going through your goals now and outlining them in an effective way. By knowing what you want and how to achieve it, you’ve already taken your first steps to success in the coming year.

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