Planning to Keep Your Goals Moving Forward in the New Year

by ianmckenzie on December 27, 2012

Project planning Project planning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each January 1 my wife and I head for a quiet table at a local coffee shop and set some goals for the upcoming year. We begin the process by reviewing what we set out to accomplish in the year past: to look at our successes and failures.

It would be easy for us to spend the time focusing on the things we didn’t get done. It’s human nature to want to live in the past: all the more so when wallowing in defeat. Unless you are an actuary or historian, there’s little advantage spending too much time or energy studying the past.

That’s not to say there are no lessons to be learned from reviewing the past. However, you cannot move forward effectively if you are constantly looking backwards. Review enough to glean what lessons you need to learn and use that information to set your plans for the future.

There is a three-phase cycle you can use to move your dreams and goals forward:

Phase One – Plan

The planning phase is the starting point for the entire process. This is where you would:

  • set the goals for the coming year.
  • define what the successful completion of the goals would look like.
  • identify the steps needed to reach the goals.

Phase Two – Focus

The focusing phase ensures your activities are aimed at the right goals, making any adjustments required to meet your goals. This phase forms the bulk of time spent reaching goals, from the planning phase to the completion and review.

Some questions to ask during this phase:

  • Are the goals still applicable?
  • Am I on track to meet the goals?
  • Are there other resources/information I need to reach the goals?

Phase Three – Review

The review phase provides an opportunity to discuss and assess how well goals were met over the year. This phase compares actual accomplishment to planned goals. This could be a good place to celebrate accomplishments. And definitely a time to identify areas for improvement.

The cycle returns to the beginning as plans are formulated for next year.

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{ 2 comments }

LJ Earnest January 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

One of the things I would add to the focus stage (and it might be covered with the word “applicable”) is to determine if what you are trying to accomplish is relevant to your life at the moment. It may be that sometimes a goal needs to be shelved for a while.

ianmckenzie January 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Relevant is probably a better word than applicable. I could see where a goal may still apply, but no longer have relevance to where I want to go from here.

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