5 Tips for Your New Year Goal Planning

If you’re like me and you’re just starting your New Year goal planning, here are five tips to help you reach your goals.

1. Start with a Long-Term Vision You’re Excited About

One of the ideas emphasized in the Inspired Leadership Specialization I recently completed is that goals need to be part of a long-term vision you’re excited about. In the article, Vision-based coaching: optimizing resources for leader development, Angela M. Passarelli writes:

“Focused goals without the context of a long-term vision can result in short-term behavior modification but may lack the emotional commitment required to sustain one’s strivings over an extended period of time.” 

Start by imagining what your ideal work and life would look like 10 years from now. If 10 years feels too far away, try 5 years, 2, or even 1. If you’re having trouble visioning, do something that makes you feel happy and relaxed and then go back to visioning. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, it’s easier to vision.

According to the article, The role of the positive emotional attractor in vision and shared vision: toward effective leadership, relationships, and engagement, “Discovering an ideal self requires efficacy, hope, and openness (Boyatzis and Akrivou, 2006). It requires people to dream, imagine future selves, and to be excited about these images.”

When you vision from a relaxed place, you’re going to create an image of an ideal future that excites you; consequently, you’ll be more motivated to work on goals to reach it.

2. Make A Learning Plan, Not an Improvement Plan

As I mentioned in the post, Create Goals to Learn, Not to Fix, when you approach goal planning from a deficit mindset, your brain sometimes goes on the defensive. On the other hand, if you set “learning goals” your brain sees possibilities and is more open to change. According to a reading in the Conversations That Inspire course I took:

“There are differences – including psychological and hormonal differences – between planning to improve and planning to learn. Improvement plans invoke short-term behavior change and often, defensiveness. Learning plans foster motivational will and energy to embark upon and sustain the development process.”

So, for example, instead of setting a goal to, “Be better at managing my time by January 2024,” try, “Between now and January 2024 I will learn how to manage my time.” Doesn’t that sound more inviting and less like an ultimatum?

3. Write Down Your Goals

You’ve created a vision of your ideal future and set goals with a learning framework. Now write them down!

According to the Inc. article, This Is the Way You Need to Write Down Your Goals for Faster Success, “You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.” Where you write your goals down is up to you, but I’d suggest putting your long-term vision and learning goals up where you can see them. That way, if you’re taking a challenging action step, you’ll be reminded of why you’re doing it, and be more likely to complete it.

4. Create an If-Then Plan

It’s normal to encounter obstacles when pursuing visions and goals. That’s why it’s important to make a plan for what to do when that happens. In her article, Why Sharing Your Goals Makes Them Less Achievable, Marwa Azab suggests you create an “if-then plan.” For example, let’s say you set a goal to learn to write regularly in the mornings. Most likely, there are going to be mornings when that will be a challenge. Your if-then plan might look like: If I don’t write in the morning then I will write during my lunch break, or then I will write after work, or then I won’t beat myself up about it.

5. Be Accountability Partners with a Friend You Trust

Visions and goal planning, especially in their infancy, are tender things. It’s important to share them with people you trust. In the article, “The Science-Backed Reasons You Shouldn’t Share Your Goals,” Amy Rigby writes:

“A Dominican University study found that more than 70% of participants who sent a weekly progress report to a friend reported successful goal achievement, compared to only 35% of participants who kept their goals to themselves and didn’t write them down.”

I bet one of your friends has learning goals they’d like to achieve, too. Reach out and ask if you can keep each other accountable with a weekly check-in email.

5 Tips for Your New Year Goal Planning

• Create goals that are part of a long-term vision you’re excited about.

• Craft goals focused on learning, rather than on fixing, or improving.

• Write down your goals.

• Prepare an if-then plan for when your action steps hit a snag.

• Find a trusted friend to share your goals with and keep each other accountable.

I hope these tips help you create a Big Vision for your work in the world that you’re excited about and goals to support that vision. If you need support clarifying or communicating your Big Vision, schedule your 30-minute complimentary coaching call.

Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

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