QUICK! List all the things you wanted to do in 2012. Now think. How many of them did you do? The new year is often a time for reflection. We sit back and think about how quickly the last 12 months whizzed by. This is the time all those forgotten goals from January 2012 emerge from the subconscious. Whether you call them New Year’s resolutions, goals or milestones; as we welcome the new year, we are all encouraged to set the scene for the coming year.
What happened to 2012? The year has flashed by at a feverish pace. In primary school, Christmas would take forever to get here. The school year dawdled by. Thoughts of a new year were far and few between. So what happens as we get older? Life happens. And as life rolls by, with its challenges, travels and work, we tend to bolt from one year to the next. If you are lucky enough to have a few years on your visa or living permanently in the UK, travel plans can get postponed, career development stalls and the year is done. On D-day (which eventually arrives), that voice appears: “If only I had done more earlier”.
As if you did not have enough to do at this time of year, experts, bosses, friends — everybody — are saying that you need to set goals. Not just any goals, SMART goals — Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic, Timebound. But, in order to get to that, there are three questions you need to answer first.
What do you want?
When it comes to goals, sometimes the mind goes blank. Part of the problem is that most people do not know what they want. Take some time out to reflect. Identify the desires that you may have pushed aside but continue to whir in the background of your conscious. A great way to overcome this goal-block is to ask “If this was the end of 2013, what will I have regretted not doing?”
Goals do not have to be elaborate. An easy and effective way of defining your goals for 2013 is to develop a theme for the year. For example, “The year of unusual travel experiences” or “The year of my fabulous career change”. A theme can help with decisions about how you spend your time, effort and money. From this theme, you can develop specific goals and actions.
Make sure you write your thoughts down. Next time you are wondering what 2013 is all about, your reminders will be there to help.
Why do you want it?
Having a goal is not enough. Without a clear reason for wanting to do something, goals become harder to achieve. Understanding the “why” provides the motivation and focus for working towards the outcome, even when it seems difficult.
How committed are you?
Commitment is correlated with effort. When there is little commitment to something, the effort expended will be small and vice versa. Psychologically, once we become committed to something, we like to follow through. This commitment becomes stronger when we understand why we are doing something or when we have taken even the smallest of steps. For example, if your theme is unusual holidays, you can commit to it by booking your trips at the start of the year. This way you can take advantage of cheap flights and packages, and organise time off work. Job done.
These days, the years seem to sprint by. Even if there was time to set goals, sometimes the deadlines can come and go. However, when we explore what we want and why, we can become motivated to take action. Our commitment to ourselves and our goals increases when we are clear about why we are doing something.
So, what will you be doing in 2013?