It's the beginning of a new year, which makes it a great time to reflect on what you achieved last year, and what is important for 2017. But how do you set goals that really get to the heart of the matter? The kind of goals that resonate so much you don't need to "find the motivation" - you are driven to achieve them.
The first trick to a great goal is how you frame it. Fast forward yourself to when you have achieved it. Consider what your time horizon is. Is it 12 months? Maybe it needs to be 3 or 6 months. Visualise how you will be thinking and feeling once you've achieved it. What will you have gained? Experience the emotion - what is it? Calm? Confidence? Excitement? Now start to jot down the themes and threads that come to your mind. Review them and try to articulate your goal in 8-10 words or less. What's important here is that your goal is articulated as if you have already achieved it and in terms of what you will be gaining (rather than what you are giving up). Now comes the test. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being "meh" if I get there I get there, or 10 being "I'll move heaven and earth to achieve that" - what's your number? A goal is only worth pursuing if it's a 10. So, if you're at less than 10 ask yourself what element's are missing? Sometimes there is a very specific word that encompasses a great deal of meaning for you. Here's the thing. It doesn't actually have to mean a whole lot to anyone else. It absolutely does need resonate for you. Goals are about heart as much as head. That's what drives your motivation.
The second trick to a great goal is considering the areas you need to give your energy and effort to in order to achieve it. Often we are tempted to jump straight into setting actions, when this can actually set us up to fail because we are likely to follow the same well worn habits of thinking and approaches we have always used. Spend some time asking yourself "what are the streams of work, the strategies I need to put my energy and effort to in order to be successful?" Often the answer is the very stuff that will make us uncomfortable. Often the answer is more about how we show up as a leader, than "actions" we will take. Once you've identified the 6 or so strategies you need to focus on, then and only then are you ready to consider the actions that will support them.
The third trick is to not lock yourself into actions. Keep the actions short term focused, and only set subsequent actions once you have achieved them and had the opportunity to reflect. Did that action take me closer to my goal? What is my learning? Do I keep doing that or do I need to ratchet it up a level and do something differently next month?
So, for a successful 2017 make your goals a 10/10. Have absolute clarity about the strategies to support your achievement and be flexible about the actions. Go well!