Getting your head in the game: four tips for really achieving your goals in 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - 08:32

Getting your head in the game: four tips for really achieving your goals in 2016

So Christmas has been and gone and you’re staring down the barrel of another 12 months of work. Think back to this time last year, did you achieve everything you set out to do in 2015? If not, that’s OK – no one’s perfect. We all pay lip service to goal setting but how many of us really take the time do it well? Effective goal setting is the key to real success so we’ve put together four tips to help you really get on track towards big things this year.

Don’t put off goal setting

"People say motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Ziglar, author and speaker.

Only 12 per cent of New Year's resolutions are actually achieved - the remaining 88 per cent will fall by the wayside according to research from the University of Bristol. Even worse is the fact that January tends to be when many of these resolutions are forgotten, largely because these first weeks are “do or die” in terms of translating goals into action.

It’s a considerable challenge to begin the year by focussing more on your objectives than usual, given how hard it is to get back into the regular flow of work. Putting the time in at this point however, can ensure you’re able to successfully reach your goals throughout the year.

January is the ideal time to kick-start your new goals and proactively set in place the framework you’ll need to complete them. Once you've settled into this rhythm in the first few weeks, you’ll be on the right track and in the right gear for building some momentum.

Review 2015 to find out what worked and what didn’t

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" – George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist.

There are two inherent dangers in reflecting on your previous year. The first is to assume that everything went well and there is nothing worth changing. The second is to assume that everything went wrong and that wholesale changes are required. Appropriate reflection lies somewhere in between as both failure and success can provide the insights you need to set both ambitious and achievable goals for yourself.

While it’s likely that not everything may have gone to plan for you in 2015, there are lessons to be learned from mistakes and mishaps. Unless you plan on changing the scope of your position, focussing on some of your weaknesses is actually a great opportunity to earmark some opportunities for training and development.

Conversely, if you achieved everything you set out to achieve in 2015, the question begs whether you can be more ambitious with your goal setting for this year. Also, identifying areas where you demonstrated unexpected strengths is another good opportunity to identify skillsets and knowledge that could vastly improve your career trajectory.

Start with one big goal that you set for yourself

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author.

The best way to ensure you have a strong start to 2016 is to have one concrete goal in mind that can provide further motivation in the early weeks of the new year. This doesn’t need to be a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal for changing your business) or some kind of complete life-changing revolution but it does need to strike at what you really want to achieve in 2016.

Performance reviews and KPI setting are useful tools for ensuring your organisation gets the greatest value possible from you but the best way to ensure you exceed your organisation’s expectation is by setting your own goals. Research cited by Harvard University on the importance of educational goal setting found that having these individual objectives in mind can measurably improve student outcomes.

The core reason for this is that personal goal setting is self-directed, rather than imposed externally. This means goals have far more relevance and people are therefore more likely to commit to completing them.  Targets that people set for themselves also increase the sense of agency, which in turn helps people to actually achieve their goals.

Make this a formal process – you should take your own goals just as serious as your performance review!

Step 1: Start by looking at your broader, longer-term goals (even your organisation’s if that gives you a starting point) – yes, they may seem a little lofty right now but there’s no reason not to set your sights high.

Step 2: Break this down into one or two short-term goals and make sure they are SMART (specific, achievable, measureable, realistic and timed). You’ll then have one or more goals that you’re more inclined to achieve and can make you a valuable team member.

Step 3: Set an action plan. When are you going to review your goals? How do you know when you’ve achieved them? Set an informal performance review with your boss or voice your goals to a partner or friend. Do whatever you need to do, just ensure you’ve given yourself the opportunity to review and change as well as the opportunity to give yourself a pat on the back.

Get the knowledge you need to achieve your goals

“When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility” - Sophia Amoruso, entrepreneur.

Career development itself will be a common goal for many people in 2016, along with finding new learning opportunities. In fact, Nielsen's most recent annual survey of New Year's resolutions found that 14 per cent of respondents set a goal to learn more - enough for this to rank in the top 10 resolutions.

If you’ve set a goal to improve your career prospects or find new opportunities, the first week of January is when you’ll need to take action on it. Enrolling in a short course or qualification as soon as you’re back in the office will set you up nicely to start really achieving your career objectives and gives you enough time to really apply your learnings to see real change in the workplace.

There’s a further benefit here as well - enrolling and committing to a course will give you tangible proof that you’re already on track and will provide you with the momentum and motivation you need to really get ahead in 2016.

Ready to get started? Click here to download your free PDF which includes more tips and a handy template to help you work out your professional goals.

If up-skilling is on your agenda, why not take advantage of AIM’s Summer of Skills offer; 20% off almost all short courses in January. Find out more here.