Much of 2013 has already passed. Are you happy with what you have accomplished over the last several months? What goals still have to be completed? Can you identify a new goal you have now because your business shifted since the beginning of the year? Taking time to reflect is important to move your business forward.
So, how do you set goals you will actually meet? Here are three powerful steps:
1. Identify what works for you.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. In school we are expected to get high grades in everything we do. But the fact is everyone excels at some things and is less effective at others. Take a personal inventory. Discover your strengths and structure your goals to play to those strengths. For example, perhaps you want to be healthier but hate most exercise and are too busy to find time. However, you love biking. Setting a goal to bike to the office twice a week allows you to move forward in getting healthier, is achievable and integrates an existing strength. (If biking isn't your thing, leave a comment below and I'll drop in with another idea for you!)
2. Figure out what isn't working.
Everyone has weaknesses. By acknowledging our weaknesses we can minimize them. For example, perhaps you struggle with staying on top of business trends. In the past, I spent significant time reviewing the Wall Street Journal and other papers to look for news that affected my clients. When I determined how much time I was spending reading these papers I realized there had to be a better way.
I have programmed Google Alerts to send me notices when articles about topics I care about appear online, in magazines or in the paper, or when authors I follow have published something new. I still get the news I need, but in significantly less time. By identifying what was NOT working as well as I'd like, I was able to identify other systems to get the results I wanted more effectively.
3. Begin where you are.
Have you ever ended a day and thought "Where did all my time go?" There always seems to be more to do than time to do it. Figuring out how you currently use your time is an important step to making your time use more effective.
Right now, figure out where your time goes. Get a piece of paper and write down everything you do from when you wake up until 10 in the morning. Everything. Keep this list with you over the next week and add to it.
Why is this important? When we know what is competing for our time, energy and focus, we can make informed decisions. Once you know what you are currently doing you have the opportunity to "create time." Change what you do and you change what you get.
As you look back on to the start of the year and ahead to its end, remember that by identifying your strengths and reworking your areas of weakness, you can create goals that will not only motivate you, but that you will achieve.
By Jason W. Womack, founder of The Womack Company, a productivity-training firm based in Ojai, Calif. He is author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley, 2012).