As the great Brian Tracy puts it, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.
The end of the year is always a great time to reflect and evaluate. Moreover, it is the perfect time to plan for the following year and what we want to accomplish in 2015.
But what does it mean to properly establish your objectives for the year to come?
Has it ever happened to you that you create a list of objectives in December but you forgot all about it in January? Is it enough to comprise a list of 10, 20 or even 30 things we would like to do in 2015 but we haven’t managed so far?
Many people act this way: at the end of the year, unsatisfied with what they accomplished during the course of the year, they create an unending list of objectives, from finding a better job to quitting smoking. They usually save this list in a folder on a computer and read it probably when they start planning for the next year. And after 12 months, in spite of that list, they realize that they work in the same old place, that they are still smoking and that they still go to the gym only once every six months.
Unfortunately, the process of setting objectives will not be like casting a spell with a magic wand: once you’ve written them down and thoroughly thought about them they will not instantly materialize.
To make things happen, you must not only set the objectives, but also make sure they are realistic, prioritized and that you have an action plan set in motion so that you are able to reach them.
So what should you do?
First of all you should probably evaluate the year that has just ended:
What were your objectives for 2014?
What objectives have you managed to reach?
What objectives didn’t you reach and why?
What have you learned (about yourself and others) this past year?
What was your most noteworthy accomplishment this year?
What is your biggest regret of the year?
What would you do different if you had the possibility to relieve the year that is coming to an end?
There are also a lot of other questions you could answer so that you have a clearer image of your evolution in 2014.
Once you’ve managed to answer all these questions you could move on to the next stage, i.e. setting the objectives for 2015.
Try to leave out all things you haven’t managed to achieve in the last 5 years. 2015 will have 12 months as well, just like the year that is just ending.
For this stage you should allow yourself more time and once your list of objectives is created move on to analyzing and prioritizing them. It is important to allocate more time for writing your objectives. This way, your emotions and feelings won’t have anything to do with the objectives prepared for the following year
How to correctly set your objectives
The way in which you formulate the objectives is essential: “To be successful in 2015” isn’t an objective, but rather a wish, and to turn this wish into an objective you must attribute it specific and quantifiable characteristics. This way you will be able to set some solid benchmarks based on which you will know if you are on the right path to reach a certain objective. Define what success means to you. Does it refer to money? If so, an objective would be “To earn at least $10.000 a month”.
Set realistic objectives: not too great, not too unreachable because in this case you will become easily demotivated. Not to small either because you risk to limit yourself and thus fail at developing from a professional point of view.
Moreover, set a deadline to reach them. This way you are able to evaluate the registered progress while also knowing how close or far you are from reaching them.
Portray the objectives in a positive manner: our mind performs better when it works to obtain or achieve something rather than to get rid of something. Replace “I don’t want to be alone anymore” with “I want to be involved in a romantic relationship”.
Write down the objectives. Whether it’s on paper or on a computer, they must be written down and displayed in sight so that you can read them from time to time. In this way the list will act like a constant reminder while you’re still connected with what you’ve set out to accomplish.
Plan! Setting the objectives is only the first stage. The next one is creating an action plan that will help you reach each of them and allocate resources that will help you do so.
Act! Do something every day that will take you one step closer to reaching your objectives!