Happy New Year! Goals, anyone?

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January is a great time to set goals, but statistically, only 8% are successful in meeting their New Year’s resolutions. However, people who explicitly write down their resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t.

When it comes to work and business, goals can have a huge impact. Goals can help us grow skills, learn to network better, change jobs or find better gigs. The beginning of the year is a great time to look at numbers, too (like how much you earned last year, spent, or saved). These can all be good metrics to use to set goals.

To start, write down a couple of work goals you’re thinking about. Then, go through each goal and ask these questions:

Is this specific?
Is this something that is 100% achievable this year?
Is this a goal that is in my control?

If the answer to any question is “no,” re-word the goal. Here are some examples:

“I want to work more hours” is a vague goal. Instead, think of specific things you can do that will lead to that outcome. Re-worded goal: “I want to meet more people who could hire me for contract work.”

“I want to change jobs” is more of an outcome than an achievement. This would be better defined as: “I’d like to improve my skills and build more connections.”

“I want to work on a major project this year (tour, album, film)” is specific, but it may not be in your control. Do you 100% know you’ll be offered a position, and that it’ll be this year? Instead, it could be: “I would like to increase my chances to work on a major project this year. I’m going to do this by…” This way, you can meet your goal regardless if you get the gig.

Once you have your goals set, break it down into tasks – a to-do list, and tasks you can regularly do  (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) that will help you achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to make more connections, your tasks could include:

  • Every week, contact two people who I don’t know but who do the same line of work
  • Arrange 1-2 meetings a month to meet new contacts or potential employers
  • Meet with a colleague or attend an industry event one evening a week

If your goal is to learn new skills (or improve a skill), your tasks might have items like this:

  • Read a manual a week
  • Schedule once a month to sit in with someone and watch them work
  • Work x amount of hands-on hours (side gigs, volunteering, or a paid gig)

The idea of tasks is to make the goal part of your regular life and routine. The key is figuring out what works best for you to take action – if it pops up on a calendar, will you do what you need to do then? Do you need reminders? How can you keep track of what you’ve done and what you need to do?

When you split a goal into smaller tasks, you also can gauge how much time you need to set aside. Do you have enough free time to complete all of your tasks? What problems might come up? What will you do if you’re out of town for a week or month? There’s a lot of troubleshooting you can now, and that just increases the chances that you’ll meet your goals. If your goal looks too ambitious, it’s okay to revise to make it more manageable.

Lastly, come up with ways to check-in on your progress. This is important because we can adapt our goals as things change through the year. It’s when we don’t adapt that goals get thrown out the window or forgotten altogether. If you do well with schedules, put your “check-ins” as appointments on the calendar, as a regular meeting with yourself once a month or few months. Or, plan it when you do something else repetitive (like paying bills). Other things can help you stay accountable like telling a friend or colleague about your goal. There’s also self-incentives – plan a reward for yourself if you can keep on track for three months or six months.

Let us know in the comments if you set any goals, or if you have any suggestions how to stay on track with goals.