I can’t imagine that I was the only person who woke up on 1 January 2020 and announced ‘2020 is MY year!’ The possibilities, the positivity, the drive, the excitement – this was THE year! Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men … who could have predicted the devastation of Covid-19 (other than Bill Gates)?
As we approach mid-year, it’s time to reset. We still have 7 months left to make 2020 spectacular – it’s time to set some genuinely audacious goals. And when I say audacious, I mean audacious. Don’t waste your time shooting for vanilla, no-one ever changed the world with vanilla.
There’s a trove of research out there on ‘goal setting’ (just googling those words turned up 1,130,000,000 results in .73 seconds), but no definitive study (the oft-quoted Harvard Business Study of 1979 is apparently a myth) on how many of us set goals and achieve them. However, my two days of research threw up enough consistency to allow me to observe that:
- Somewhere between 3% and 10% of us have written goals – which essentially means that around 90% of us are prepared to roll the dice and hope for the best
- Challenging and specifically formulated goals lead to better outcomes than easy goals, ‘do your best’ goals or no goals at all
- Goals affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence, and motivating strategic development
- The physical act of writing goals increases processing and retention
My conclusion: those who articulate and then write down highly specific, well planned, and determinedly stretch goals will achieve better results than those who do not.
COVID aside, there is still time to make 2020 amazing. Here’s how:
- Be Self-Aware
Your goals need to align with your values. Having absolute clarity over the values that drive you is central to deciding where you should – and should not – invest your time. Take the time to clearly articulate your values – what is most important to you; where would you most like to spend your time?
Then, considering your values, where would you like to be in 5 years’ time when it comes to your health; wealth; family; career; lifestyle? Write a statement for each and then against each statement write a few reasons as to why this future state is important to you.
At first glance, your 5-year goals can seem overwhelming. Where on earth do you even start? By breaking your big goals into smaller, actionable steps — your sprint goals. For example, your 5-year health goal may be to run the New York Marathon.
In order to achieve this goal, you can’t just rock up to New York in 2025 in your gym gear and hope for the best. There are so many moving parts to this goal, including building a training schedule, creating a nutrition plan, submitting an application for a spot in the race, coordinating time out from work, travel and accommodation arrangements, building a holiday around the race, flying your personal cheer squad with you, coordinating your cheer squad’s time off school/work and so on.
This is where mind mapping comes in. Physically map out your 5-year goals and then break them down into smaller sprint goals. The more you break your big goals down the better because you are turning a somewhat overwhelming goal into multiple, very doable, actionable tasks.
Consider each sprint goal, write it up as an action, and lock in a deadline. Allocating deadlines will significantly increase the likelihood of you completing an action and each time you do so, you will be creating an ongoing sense of momentum towards achieving your marathon goals.
Succinctly reframe your 5-year goals so that they are positive, written in the present tense, and measurable – doing so will help motivate you as you visualize exactly how your future looks and feels. Let’s say your health goal is: ‘I need to lose at least 10 kilos’ – here’s how to reframe it: ‘It’s December 2020 and I run 5 km every day and at my current pace it takes me 30 minutes. That’s 5 x 6 minute kms!’
- Take Control
Having reframed your goals, write them up, and place them somewhere you can read them and spend a few minutes visualizing them every single day. Focus on how you will feel when the goal is realized. This is the long game.
Finally – and this is really important – don’t lose sight of the fact that we rarely follow a straight line towards achieving our goals — in fact, the tangents, turns and opportunities that arise simply by virtue of the goals we set out to achieve can often be more important, impactful and satisfying than the goals we originally set. Stay alert to these opportunities so you are ready to seize them when they arise.
Written by Kate Christie. Here’s what you’ve missed?
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