How to Keep Your Goals After the New Year’s Buzz Wears Off
It’s the New Year, and in case the sudden overpopulation of local gyms hasn’t clued you in, we have entered the season of rampant goal setting. Whether you were the first one on the treadmill on January 1st or the one opting out of New Year’s resolutions because you think they’re cliché, the odds are that all this talk about new beginnings has gotten you thinking about what you and your business want to accomplish in 2013 (if you want some inspiration, check out “5 Entrepreneurs Share Their Strategies for Success In The New Year”).
Dreaming up resolutions is the fun part, but actually following through after the initial New Year excitement wears off is the challenge. Below are five tips for making sure you hit your goals throughout the whole year.
Get emotionally invested. Set goals that really get you going. According to Mark Murphy, author of Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, the number one reason why people fail at achieving their goals is because they do not care enough about the end result. Make sure your goals actually motivate and challenge you and your business. According to Murphy, if you set goals you think you should accomplish but do not feel challenged by or emotionally connected to, you are less likely to follow through with them. Instead of setting a goal to lose ten pounds, for example, connect weight loss with a bigger picture of a happier, healthier, and longer life.
But how do you get emotionally invested? As many business goals are often abstract and numeric, creating a visual to associate with your numeric goals helps forge an emotional connection to them. Murphy suggests creating imagery or a vision board to “animate” your goals and make them seem more tangible. If an increase in revenue means you will be able to open a new location, for example, print out photos of what your new space will look like. You and your colleagues can create visual collages online at sites like Pinterest or DreamitAlive.
Phrasing your goals positively also helps get you more emotionally invested in them. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “Being able to pay the bills isn't exactly an inspirational goal. Achieving financial security phrases your goal in a more positive manner, thus firing up your energy to attain it.”
Be S.M.A.R.T. It’s great to have lofty, exciting goals, but make sure you are specific about what it means to actually accomplish them. Take the time to define “success” in relation to your goals, and set up success metrics to make sure you’re on track toward your desired end results. Mark Murphy suggests breaking up yearly goals into six month, three month, monthly and daily goals. A good guide for setting goals in a systematic and effective way is the “SMART System:”
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T – Timely
Some resources for keeping up with your SMART goals are GoalsOnTrack and Lifetick, which were specifically designed for the SMART system, and My Strategic Plan, which suits professionals who are already goal-oriented and want to make their goal-setting even more productive.
Set personal goals. Whether you like it or not, your personal life affects your professional life, and vice versa. Though focusing on your business may seem appealing going into the New Year, take time to take care of yourself. Goals around a healthy lifestyle and a better work-life balance directly affect your professional productivity. Setting personal goals that complement and coincide with your business goals allows you to work more efficiently and move forward in all areas of your life.
One online resource that serves as a motivation to remember your personal goals is Dreaminder – a virtual “message in a bottle” to help remind you of your dreams and get you excited to achieve them down the road.
Treat yourself! As you hit your benchmarks along the way, and especially when you achieve a goal, set up a rewards system for your accomplishments. Did your team hit its sales targets last month? Dinner party! Did you drop five of the fifteen pounds you wanted to lose? Have a piece of cake!
If positive rewards don’t do the trick for you, negative rewards also work. Instead of celebrating your results, you can punish yourself for missing your targets. Stickk, a site that makes you pay money to a friend, a charity you like, or even a charity you hate whenever you miss a commitment, is a great resource for negative reinforcement.
Don’t go it alone. If you don’t tell anyone about your goals, you can easily stop working towards them whenever you lose motivation. Instead, have a friend, colleague, or fellow coworker act as your accountability partner. Keep your partner up-to-date on your accomplishments and make sure they update you on theirs. If you don’t have any particularly motivating people physically nearby, take advantage of some online communities. 43 Things, an online community of over three million users, provides a forum for sharing your goals, posting accomplishments, and getting cheered on by other people doing the same thing. Wishbomb, a site where you can invite friends and family to follow you, allows you to post your goals and keep a “wishblog” about your accomplishments.
After you have set your resolutions for the year, we would love to hear them in the comments below, as well as any tips and tricks you have for setting and sticking to your goals. As for Workbar, our resolution is to continue to follow the lean startup methodology and make sure we’re practicing what we preach. Feel free to keep us accountable!
For further reading on tips, tricks, and resources, check out our source articles below:
Top 5 Goal Setting Tools for Entrepreneurs | YFS Magazine
How to Stick to your New Year's Resolutions | Entrepreneur MagazineAbout the Author: Alexa Lightner is one of the Space & Community Managers at Workbar. Contact her via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @alexalightner.