“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there – Anonymous
In order to succeed and to move to a higher level, we must focus on great achievement that constantly pushes us forward. This focus comes from one source: persistent effort toward the achievement of worthy goals. As goal-seeking beings, this resonates with a deep inner and evolutionary desire. Humans are hardwired to progress.
Setting annual goals is a great way to make this happen. The cycle of one year is a good milestone to measure progress, and the beginning of the year is a time of renewal—out with the old and in with the new. Twelve months is also about the right length of time to accomplish something significant, enabling us to move the needle quickly with sustained effort.
I personally have been setting annual goals every year for more than 25 years and have found it to be critical to helping me build family, career, wealth, happiness and other accomplishments. I owe much to this one simple habit.
I have learned that it takes five key things to make annual goal- setting both productive and successful. They are:
- Set Goals that Are in Complete Alignment with Your Lifetime Definite Purpose. Your annual goals should be the critical short-term steps that must be accomplished in order to achieve your bigger lifetime purpose. It’s easier to achieve your definite purpose when you break it down into concrete, attainable annual steps.
- Establish Goals that Are Both Important and Exciting.
While many important tasks are tough and boring, they are critical to your long-term success and need to be included in your goals. However, ensure you also have the goals that excite you and get your adrenaline pumping. This will keep you inspired to take action and move toward bigger accomplishments and a better life.
- Don’t Spend a Lot of Time Creating Your Goals. I only commit an hour or two to setting my annual goals since I don’t want to overthink them. I usually have a very good idea of what I need to do anyway, as I have been thinking about them through the year.
- Make Goals that Seem Unattainable at the Time. Don’t worry initially about how you are going to achieve your goals; that will come. Focus only on outcomes that will make your life massively better. This will move your thinking to a higher level and help you access capabilities and resources that you didn’t know you had. If you knew it was easy and how to accomplish it, you likely would have done it by now.
- Write Your Goals Down. Talk is cheap. Most serious commitment happens in writing (pledges, contracts, etc.). Write your goals down, along with target dates for their accomplishment. Sign the document and post it somewhere you can read it several times a day. This will remind you of its importance and help you stay on track. Even better, write out your goals every morning. This will reinforce them in your mind and make their accomplishment more likely.
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy.