Productivity Tips: Setting Goals

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of the year again. We sit down and review the past year and map out a path for the next year. How are we doing on long-term goals? Is it time to discard some old ones? What short term goals should we attack for next year? Entire books have been written on goal-setting. But a few basic tips can help you set better goals for your resolutions for the New Year:

Paper and pen for writing goals

Consider Long- Versus Short-Term Goals

Distinguish between long- and short-term goals. Launching a blog is short-term. Making your blog great is long-term. A long-term goal is served by many short-term goals.

I think of long-term goals as defining the life that I want and short-term goals as individual projects that move me in that direction. Long-term goals don’t change unless you make major changes in your life. Short-term goals change constantly.

Make Your Goals Clear

Clarity is critical. If you’re not clear what the goal is, you can’t determine how you’re doing or whether you’ve reached it. For example, “lose weight” is unclear. How many pounds do you want to lose? Or are you really more concerned with building muscle? Having clear targets makes it easier to focus on contributing tasks.

  • Make goals specific.
  • Make goals measurable.
  • Put goals in writing to make sure you understand exactly what you’re aiming for.

Review Your Goals Regularly

Circumstances change. Review your short-goals at regular intervals. Experiment to see what interval works best for you — weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or maybe even just annually.

For me, quarterly (every three months) seems to work best for complete goal reviews. If I have a lot going on, I review more regularly. In addition, I briefly review immediate plans and to-do items weekly.

When you review, check your progress toward your goals. If your long-term goals change, then you may need to make major course corrections and re-think your path.

It’s ok to be flexible. Change happens.