Anybody can wake up and make a resolution for 2012, but making a concrete goal will be more helpful. One day before January 1, 2012, you may say to yourself “I’m going to be a better parent/sibling/son/daughter,” or “I will get healthy,” or maybe even “I will become my own boss.” These are great resolutions to make to improve your life in the new year. Unfortunately, those resolutions are vague and tough to attain. This year forget your wishy-washy resolutions and make concrete goals for yourself. With these tips you can set yourself on the right track to actually see some changes in 2012, thanks to your new goals.
Determine Your Goals
When setting goals or resolutions for the new year, many people focus on a few areas all the time. To make more well-rounded goals in 2012, think about the nine areas that Barbara Chick mentions in her e-book on the subject. Chick advises looking at any artistic goals you may have, as well as any attitude changes. She also recommends setting goals for your career, education, family life, finances, physical health, community service, and your social life. Of course you shouldn’t set a goal in each category if you don’t need to. Instead, the list is a good way to think about the different goals you could set for yourself. Using these categories, you can write down general resolutions you’d like to make, before you take the time to think about the specific goals you will set.
Steve Kamb, creator of Nerd Fitness, often reminds his readers that goals need to be specific. He explains better than I can the importance of specific goals:
Pretend you’re driving a car – setting a vague goal is like saying “I’m going to California.” Awesome, where in California exactly are you going? As Chesire Cat famously states in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
Use the list of resolutions that you just created (or already had) and try to break them down into specific goals. What will make you a better sibling? Is it calling your brother once a month? Excellent. That’s your new goal. How can you improve your law practice? Is signing one new client a month a realistic and challenging, yet attainable goal? Perfect. Now write it down and pin it up somewhere you will see it every day.
Measure Your Progress
Only that which is measured is improved. That means you need to figure out a way to measure your various goals. If your new goal is to have dinner once a month with your parents, mark your calendar every month to remind you. Track your new client list and check it regularly to see if you hit your goal of one new client a month. This is where specific goals are important. It’s impossible to track if you are just “growing your law practice.” But if your specific goal is to bring on two new associates and increase revenue twenty percent, then in the middle of the year you can see if you are on track to meet your goal. More importantly, you can see how close you are to your goals and reassess if necessary.
Most importantly, if you don’t measure your progress and track your goals, you won’t be able to celebrate when you reach your new goals for 2012.