Even if New Year’s resolutions are not your thing, January is a great time to think about what you want to accomplish over the next year. Although some goals are easy to achieve, others may require a more strategic approach that includes putting together a long-term game plan.
To help you reach those challenging goals in 2016, I’ve created a one-month plan with a single action step for each day. These “30 ways in 30 days” will keep you working toward accomplishing your dreams, regardless of how far-fetched they may seem. Here’s to doing what seems the impossible!
Week 1 – 30 Days/30 Ways to Accomplish Your Goals
Day 1: Identify the three goals you most want to achieve by the end of 2016. Pick those that relate to the biggest priorities in your life and let the others fall by the wayside (for the time being, that is). Then broadcast your intentions: post your goals on social media, write about them on your blog or website, or tell a friend or colleague about them. (If you don’t want to go public with them, at least write them down somewhere for yourself.)
Day 2: The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu (6th century BCE) proclaimed, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So take that first step by blocking out 30 minutes each day (before work, for example, or during lunch or right before you go to bed) on your calendar as time to focus on goal #1.
If spending the same chunk of time on each day isn’t feasible, then find at least three or four periods each week that you can commit to the pursuit of your goals. Add those time blocks to your calendar as meetings titled “Strategy session: goal #1”—both to remind yourself why it’s an important meeting to keep and to prevent anyone else in the office from trying to schedule you for something else during that time.
Day 3: Learn from others who have already achieved their goals. Don’t compare yourself to them—just find inspiration from them.
Day 4: If you work in corporate America, you’ve probably heard your company’s HR department talk about “SMART” goals. Here’s what that means:
- Specific (What does “done” look like?)
- Measurable (How will you know that the goal is accomplished?)
- Attainable (How will you accomplish this goal?)
- Relevant (Why does this goal matter to you?)
- Time-bound (When must this goal be accomplished so you can focus on other things?)
Although its name sounds a bit cliché, SMART really is an outstanding methodology for creating goals so that the answer to “Is the goal done?” becomes a simple “yes” or “no.” Having this sort of clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish can be refreshing and strengthen your focus. So on day 4 ask yourself, “Just how SMART is my goal?” and figure out how your goal aligns with each part of the SMART rubric. (And if you’d like even more information on how to make your goals SMART, check out this site.)
Day 5: Knowing exactly what you need to focus on every day is critical to achieving any worthwhile goal. So now that you’ve established the finish line for goal #1 (by defining the “time-bound” part of SMART), it’s time to create an action plan:
- Clearly outline what you need to do, step by step, to achieve your goal.
- Work backward from your end date to determine which steps you need to accomplish each week.
- Break down your weekly goals into daily activities that will keep you on track to hit your target date.
Depending on how complicated your goal is, you may need to create several action plans; often, only when you reach a certain stage can you then determine your next steps. Figure out what needs to be done, then build those tasks into your schedule so that you actually make progress on hitting your goals.
Day 6: Don’t limit yourself to easy goals that you know you can achieve. Keep yourself motivated by taking some chances and dreaming big.
Day 7: Remember to reflect on your actions periodically as you keep moving forward. During the last six days, you have defined your goals, created an action plan, and marked time in your schedule for focusing on taking real steps to achieve your goals.
Today, check in with yourself on these two questions:
- How am I doing so far?
- Have I made time for the pursuit of my goal and started to take action on it?
Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t made progress over the past week. Just reset the counter, make today day 1, and begin anew!
Week 2 – 30 Days/30 Ways to Accomplish Your Goals
Day 8: Review the action plan you created last week to determine what needs to occur this week for you to stay on track to hit your deadline(s). Identify blocks of time during the rest of the week when you can focus on specific actions from your plan (and continue to do this scheduling on the first day of each week in order to help you achieve both work and personal goals).
Day 9: Precision is key to accomplishing your goals, so make sure that the steps in your action plan are precise. If necessary, hone your plan so that you are taking clearly defined steps toward your goal each day.
Day 10: Some people find it motivating to tell others about their new life goals and their progress toward them. If you know that you’re definitely one of those people, then by all means enlist a trusted advisor to your cause. That technique doesn’t work for everyone, though, so take some time to consider why you may prefer to keep your goals private.
Day 11: Time for a check in with yourself: are you making good use of the time you’ve blocked off to focus on your goals? Or are you allowing other deadlines to encroach on your private time?
If your enthusiasm for this project is waning (or if you’re having difficulty finding time for it), just remind yourself that your goal is important to you. You set this goal because you want to accomplish something new in your life. So if you aren’t moving forward, figure out a schedule that you can actually commit to so you can see even just a little bit of progress each week. Remember, you’re worth it.
Day 12: Authenticity is a critical component of success. Make sure that your goals truly reflect your authentic self.
Day 13: The odds are good that other people have pursued the same goal that you’ve set for yourself. Do some research and find out what challenges they encountered and how they overcame them to succeed. Follow your own path—but get as much help as possible along the way.
Day 14: It’s the end of another week! Spend today catching up on anything that was missed during the previous week. What needed to happen but didn’t because you ran out of time or motivation—or both? Which step (or steps) do you need to redo? Are you on track?
Wow! You’re now two weeks into achieving your goals! You’re already halfway there! Stay tuned for my next post in two weeks with the second part of this 30-day plan.