How many goals have you set for 2017? Or how long is your list of things you hope to do in 2017? Ten, twenty, thirty? Be honest. It’s January. We’re in our ambitious, we-can–do-it-all, highly motivated state. The excitement level is high. The energy is palpable.
And the list is too long. And it’s not going to happen.
I don’t mean to sound negative or discourage you. I want you to have an amazing 2017 – and I want to have one too. In December, I took an online goal-setting class called “Best Year Ever,” by Michael Hyatt. It’s a well-conceived, efficient way to get your new year’s goals on paper. He shows you nine areas of your life that you want to consider – spiritual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, and financial. Nine areas – great, let’s start making goals for 2017!
My first pass attempt? 36 goals for 2017 – 4 in each area of my life.
I’m excited. I’m going spend more time with my husband. I’m going to make new friends. I’m going to launch new strategies at work. I’m going to walk every morning. I’m going to have devotional time every night. I’m going to get a new hobby, maybe two. I’m going to work on a charitable project.
Luckily, my goals course forced me to choose only 7-10 specific goals and ditch all the rest of my good ideas. After week one, I’m making pretty good progress on two of my goals, and I’m working at it flat-out full-time. Whew. What was I thinking?
I was thinking I was some kind of superhero with special powers that no one else has. Instead, I am a flawed human being who struggles with focus, and realistically, can’t get done more than 3 things in the next three months.
Focus is our only prayer of having real, exciting breakthroughs on our goals in 2017. Yet, we constantly are overly ambitious – and then find ourselves thoroughly disappointed in our unaccomplished goals.
Here are a few suggestions to help you have a focused year in which you actually accomplish some of your ambitious, important goals:
- Do a goal setting exercise with a real pro. I highly recommend either Best Year Ever (online) or Living Forward (book), both by Michael Hyatt. Let someone who is good at this teach you how to focus and get set up for success.
- Set no more than 7-10 goals for your whole life in 2017. And be super excited if you “nail” 3 or 4 of them. That is realistic. And it will be much more satisfying at the end of the year to celebrate real breakthrough accomplishments, than to revisit your list of 36 things that didn’t happen.
- Find a buddy. Goals are too hard to reach by yourself. You need someone to talk to when you stumble, and to celebrate with when you succeed. You need someone nearby who really cares about you and shares your enthusiasm for the goals. And perhaps most importantly, you need tough love. Someone who loves you enough to encourage you and be your cheerleader – but also knows that you seriously want to accomplish these goals – and who is willing to ask you the tough questions and hold you accountable.
- Have a process that keeps you close to your goals and your progress. Here is what has worked for me – and I learned it from Living Forward by Michael Hyatt. Get up Saturday morning, make your cup of coffee, sit by the window, and look back at the week. I call this “week in review.” I jot notes of what I got done that week on my goals. I notice where I struggled and where I had victory. Then on Sunday morning, get up, make the coffee, go to your desk or computer, and open your calendar. I call this “planning the week ahead.” Put your goals on your calendar for the week ahead. What gets scheduled, gets done, more often than not.