A fresh year always inspires fresh dreams. Most of us think, “What are the things I could improve in my life, if I had a fresh start?” For some reason, “January 1st” symbolizes new possibilities and a chance for a “do-over.”
In what area of your life would you like a fresh start? In your parenting or other relationships? Your performance at school or on the job? How about being more financially savvy or more organized? Or, maybe yours is like mine: to take control of busyness and reserve more time to reflect. All of these are admirable aspirations—but how can we make them a reality?
Most successful people accomplish their aspirations by staring with dreams and then establishing goals and plans to help make them come true. And, they know that the most effective goals are both specific and measurable (as opposed to vague and difficult to evaluate). As you start to identify your aspirations for 2016 and beyond, it’s important to develop short-, intermediate-, and long-range goals to help get you there.
Even if you’re not naturally a goal-setter, it’s not difficult to become one. Start by imagining what you want your life to look like. What are the large-scale goals you hope to achieve? These are your long-term or lifetime goals. It’s important to set these first because they will shape your overall perspective and help frame your smaller and shorter-term goals. Think about such areas as:
- Education and learning
- Marriage and family
- Community service
- Spiritual life
- Physical goals (sports, etc.)
- Talents and skills
Once you’ve established your long-term goals, you can set some medium-term goals (e.g., three to five years) that will help you achieve your long-term goals. From there, you can set one-year, six-month, and one-month goals, all of which will ultimately contribute to the larger picture. Periodically check on your long-term goals to make sure they remain high on your list. Also, monitor your progress on your medium-range goals to make sure you’re on track.
(Parents, you may want to make some parenting goals … check out our book, Parenting for the Launch, for some ideas to help you set goals and create a family mission statement.)
Finally, start making daily to-do lists, prioritized by importance and urgency. If you do, you’ll be contributing on a daily basis toward the things that will make your lifetime goals and dreams possible. Here are some guidelines as you do:
- Phrase your goals in the positive, not the negative
- Make them realistic goals—ones that are possible and achievable
- Make them measurable and specific, such as “visit five continents” as opposed to “travel around the world”
What are your aspirations for 2016? Beyond that? This can be fun and lively discussion with family and friends over the holiday season. Make a plan to check back with each other next New Year’s and see who has gained the most ground in accomplishing their goals.