Setting Goals For 2019
As we approach a new year, the topic of goals and resolutions for next year is bound to come up in conversation. It’s relatively well published that people who are in the habit of setting goals tend to be more successful. Just writing your resolutions down makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.
Whether you’re looking at establishing personal resolutions or team goals at work, it’s important to structure them in a way that increases your chances of success. The principles are the same, only team goals need to be created collaboratively for maximum buy-in. Here are my tips for establishing goals for 2019. At the end, I’ve written my personal goals to give you insight into how I implement this strategy.
There’s a saying that goes something like “shoot for the stars and you’ll at least reach the moon” I’d like to add “...but you might be bummed you didn’t get to the stars.” To get to the stars, you must first get to the moon. Goals are about growth, and growth is a multi-step process. Start by getting to the moon, then maybe the planets, then for the stars!
By setting resolutions that are too lofty, you are likely to end up disappointed when you don’t accomplish them. The process of failure can teach you a lot, but it is also downright discouraging.
Let’s create a simple example that we’ll follow through each point. If you read ten books in 2018, setting a goal for 50 books is very likely too much (shooting for the stars. Some people might be able to read a book each week, but those people are a minority. Instead, maybe try for 20 books, which is just under two per month. This goal captures growth from 2018, but not so outlandish that you’ll struggle to complete it.
Categorize Your Goals
I think four categories are sufficient to establish balanced growth: business, fitness/health, mental, and spiritual. If I feel one category is particularly important for the year, I’ll go so far as to drop one of the others so I can better focus. Again, this is about maximizing your potential for success. No categorization results in scattered, lopsided growth. Adding categorization creates focus and helps ensure you don’t set too many goals.
I’d place our goal of reading 20 books in 2019 in the Mental category. It could also go into the Business category if you focus solely on business books.
Don’t Tackle Them At Once
These first points are all intended to keep your goals manageable. If you make too much change at once, your body is liable to reject it and you won’t succeed. Habit rewiring is a process, and goals inherently require change. Pick one goal to start with, then as habit takes hold with that goal, begin to add in the next one to your routine.
Because your goal of reading 20 books this year is merely an upgrade from reading ten books per year, you can adapt more quickly and should be able to balance that with another goal. Start a new book on January 1st and pair it with another goal that requires a little more change.
This infographic put together by INC shows that only 7% of teams know what actions they need to take to achieve a company’s goals. Setting a goal isn’t enough; you must establish a means to track progress so you know if you’re progressing correctly. Company’s call these key performance Indicators (KPIs), and they need to be reviewed periodically.
With reading it’s pretty simple. Keep a list of the books you’ve read. For tech-savvy folks you can use Good Reads, or, if you’re old fashioned like me, keep a pen and paper list. If in March you’ve only read four books, you know you’re one book behind pace. If by June you’ve read 10, you’re back on track. You’ll get a better idea of KPIs for the other categories by reading over my personal goals.
The more significant the accomplishment, the bigger the celebration. In business, celebrating a person or a team is an excellent motivator for productivity and keeps morale and engagement high. Your goals are no longer just something to get done; they produce something tangible. Try to match the reward with the goal, and make sure that more substantial achievements receive greater rewards.
Say come March we’ve read five books. That’s on track for our twenty book goal and because we’re a quarter of the way there we celebrate by getting a new journal. Reading is reflective and educational by its nature, so the reward is in line with the goal. Even if it takes until June to read five books, celebrate it. If we reach the full twenty books, maybe get a nice set of bookends to show off on your bookshelf.
My Goals for 2019
I think it’s helpful to see an example of effective goal setting, so I’ve written mine out here for you. Feel free to steal my ideas outright, or revise them to fit your needs. I print mine out and post them in a couple of places where I’m forced to look at them, like by my desk. I recommend you do the same.
Business Goal: 5x my company. I know the Silicon Valley standard is to 10x a company, but I’m not in business to scale. I’m in business to make an impact.
KPIs: Unique Monthly Visitors to Website (I should have 5x the number of monthly visitors in December 2019 compared to January 2019). Land 5x number of contracts in 2019 compared to 2018.
Rewards: When halfway there, take a long weekend that requires flying somewhere. It seems counter-intuitive, but rest is the key to productivity. When accomplished, book an overseas flight.
Fitness/Health: 500,000 yards of swimming, 400 hours of biking, 175 hours of running. Yeah, it’s a lot, but it’s only a slight upgrade from my training numbers in 2017 (2018 was kind of an off year from training and racing). I have an Ironman Triathlon in September, so the relative majority of these hours will be completed in July, August, and September. Note that I’m not immediately jumping to the weekly average required to achieve this goal, I’m building to/beyond the weekly average). Do I have to put a disclaimer here telling you to not attempt excessive working out without consulting your physician?
KPIs: yards/hours per week. For swimming it’s an average of 9600/wk, biking is just under 8hrs/wk, and running is just under 3.5/wk. I use a coach to help structure all this, so I don’t overdo it.
Rewards: at ¼ complete, new water bottle, goggles, running socks. At ½ complete, new swimsuit, bike shorts, running shorts. At complete, new swim bag, bike computer, running watch.
Mental: Read 20 books per year. My goal in 2018 was 12, which I exceeded. Because I’m also heavily focused on growing my company, time is a premium, and I don’t want to escalate this goal too much.
KPIs: average books/month. Keep a list.
Rewards: at ½ complete (10 books) get a new bookmark. At complete, get new (and nice) bookends.
Spiritual: Read Scripture 3x/week. For whatever reason this goal has always been a struggle for me, and I’m still trying to find a way to integrate this. I subscribe wholeheartedly to Christianity. Reading Scripture with greater frequency doesn’t make me holier/increase my chances of going to heaven (that’s by grace alone). It does remind me that I serve a God and my actions and decisions should reflect him.
KPIs: The goal is the KPI. I typically journal when I read, so I can go back and review my "progress." If I read 2x one week, 3x the next, and 4x the week after that, I’m doing well for that period.
Rewards: 2 months of consistency: a new journal. I like moleskin journals and use them with my devotions, so this makes sense. Four months of consistency: a new fountain pen. I love pens; with a new fountain pen, I’d have one for work and one for devotions. 6 months of consistency: a new Bible. I’d get a Study Bible so that I can gain a deeper insight into the context of a passage.
Hopefully my goals give you some ideas to establish your own. If you need help determining your goals, feel free to contact me, and we can chat about them. If you’re looking to define your company’s or team goals, I’m happy to consult and build out a useful framework for you and your team. Just set up a time to call and discuss your needs.