They say make resolutions. But others say most resolutions fail so don’t make resolutions, make goals. Make long term goals. No, make short term goals. Not only that, they tell you how you must make goals. And each person has their own rules. You could get whiplash from adjusting your plan. Arg! So which way is the road to success?
I’m not telling you to make or not make resolutions. Heck, if not setting goals works for you, go for it! But if you set goals or resolutions last year and you did not get the results you wanted, stop. Do not make another goal or resolution. At least not until after you get some clarity. Clarity about those two things takes precedence over setting goals.
Make a Plan
But, you can know who you are and where you want to go, and still get lost on the trip. If you didn’t meet last year’s goals or resolutions, examine why. It’s imperative that you know why those things didn’t work before you make your list for next year. If you had a long trip to make to a specific location, would you take off and hope you’d get to your destination? No, you’d at least look at a map. You’d choose a route, plan how long it would take, prepare the car, etc. So, think of your resolutions or goals as a road trip. Look at what you had planned for last year. What detours or rest stops did you take and why?
Actions You Can Control
Were your goals dependent upon others? For example, a goal of going to the gym with my husband or best friend is a goal that hinges on someone else’s cooperation. If my goal had been to have a Big Six Publisher publish my book by the end of the year, that’s a goal I cannot control. I can’t make my best friend, nor even my husband, be ready to go to the gym with me. Nor can I make a Big Six Publisher publish my book.
A better goal would have been that I would go to the gym three days a week. Or that I would send my manuscript to one of the big 6 publishers for consideration every three months. Or even I will research each publisher and check if they would be a good match for me.
Plan for Roadblocks
Perhaps you were more like Dean Wesley Smith in that a life change created a temporary roadblock. Then in your evaluation of how you did last year, you take that life change under consideration. For example, one year we were in the middle of remodeling my kitchen and disaster struck. A 90-foot tall tree landed on my house. Then, my husband had a 5-way cardiac by-pass followed by a stroke. My goals did not get accomplished. The kitchen remodeling stopped cold, and I got zero, nada, zip writing done in the last 6 months of that year. That meant I had to reevaluate what the road to success was under my new circumstances and adjust. In Dean’s posts, Goals and Dreams 2012 Series, he encourages you to plan how and when to start back writing. Based on my experience, that’s a fantastic idea. Small, specific, achievable goals would have helped me negotiate that roadblock.
Things to Remember
Sometimes, you can’t ever seem to get to the finish line. Did you get stuck in a ‘must be perfect loop’ never finishing your project? Or were you too tired or not in the mood and so accomplished less than you had planned? If perfectionism or moods get in your way, read Kristin Lamb’s take on 2012 and Planning for Success in the New Year.
Perhaps on your road to success, you had goals that were ‘too big.’ For example, your resolution to lose 50 pounds in three months is not only huge; it may not be safe to accomplish in that time period. Or if your goal had been to write the first draft of two novels and revise another novel AND you work a full-time job outside of writing, you have a family or moved, had a new baby, etc., those goals may have been demanding too much of yourself. That’s like trying to drive from Key West, Florida to Point Barrow, Alaska (approximately 5,500 miles or 8,800 km) without a pit stop. Look at this marathon runner’s post on the danger of setting big goals and learn about his motto: Think Big, Act Small, Start Today.
Perhaps last year’s goals or resolutions had an indefinite future. In this case, your roadmap may have taken you on multiple detours. See Coleen Patrick’s post about indefinite future goals.
Specific, Actionable Goals
Vague goals like: I’ll start blogging, I’ll lose weight, I’ll control my diabetes, or I’ll take a trip to Australia can set you up for roadblocks. These goals have the potential to be great goals, but you need to have a plan that is specific. Specific like, I will read three books on blogging and follow 4 blogs for three months. That will help me plan how to fit blogging into my life. Or for your diet, you could say that for the next three months you will eat a salad at lunch and dinner 4 out of 7 days a week. Or I’ll save X number of dollars per week for X weeks and take my trip to Australia in a specific month of a specific year. See more about how to make SMART goals in the post Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting.
If you need more help to set goals that are baby steps. Read about ROW80. This kind of goal setting allows for future needs. It allows for unplanned life events or learning something new or changing your mind. With short-term goals, you can easily adjust your goals.
My Road to Success
I don’t know about you, but after reading all these wonderful posts, I will spend January looking at the goals I want for next year. Specific goals that will carry me forward. I will take the long-term goals and break them down into 80-90 day increments. This way I can reevaluate my goals throughout the year and make adjustments as needed.
Remember, the road to Success is NOT straight.
Did last year go the way you planned? What road to success will you be following for next year?