It seems obvious that great value can come from considering your future. However, in my experience, ’goal setting’ is too often left to managers, and an unintended consequence of this is that the conversations are limited to work projects, and outside of these conversations, people don’t spend much time designing and planning their future at all.
Goal setting should instead be seen as a key ingredient of living an intentional life. Done properly, goal setting helps you work smarter, become more outcome oriented, improve your prioritisation, and help you become more personally effective. As planning your future also helps build your sense of agency, autonomy and self-determination, setting goals also helps improve your resilience and your psychological well-being.
With that in mind, here are 10 questions to help you get greater clarity on your year ahead.
10 Goal Setting Questions
1. What are your core values?
Start by identifying what is most important to you, or you risk pursuing someone else’s definition of success.
2. What is your long-term vision?
What does amazing look like down the line? Consider personal and professional (learning, growth, creative, health, financial, experience, adventure, how you want to spend your time, the impact you wish to have on others, etc), think big and be ambitious.
3. What are your 5 priorities for this year?
You need to be selective and choose no more than five for the year (including both personal and professional). The fewer priorities you have, the greater the progress you’ll make on each.
4. What are your 5 main moves?
Goals need to be turned into processes. To do this, for each of your goals, establish the 5 ‘main moves’ that will take you from where you are to the completion of your goal. Then calendarise these moves.
5. What are you 3 key habits?
Not all goals are best broken down into steps, some require consistent habits (e.g. reading more books, spending more time with your friends, being more consistently creative). For these, identify the 1 – 3 key habits that will make the biggest positive difference. Establish these habits.
6. What are your 3 specific goals for this quarter?
Decide your three priorities for this quarter (no more than three for any three month period). Then decide specifically what progress you will have made on each by March 31st.
7. What would your ideal day & week look like?
Now consider your ongoing experience and lifestyle. It’s no good achieving your goals if your ongoing experience is unsatisfying or perpetually out of ‘balance’. What would your ideal days and weeks look like, or feel like, or need to include?
8. Who do you need to become?
Process all of your thoughts so far, and now consider your mindset. What one change could you make that would make all of the above easier?
9. How will you review your progress in 3 months?
Calendarise a quarterly review for the first week of April, to ensure you make time to adequately review your progress and reflect on your experience. The 5 questions to answer on your review can be found here: How to do a quarterly review.
10. How can you be more self-compassionate?
Eager as I’m sure you now are to crack on and be amazing, also consider the merits of not striving for anything at all. Yes, goals are important, but can you also be more accepting of the way things are, practise gratitude for what you have, and show more consistent kindness to yourself? These things should not be mutually exclusive.
Hope this has triggered some useful thinking.
Three more resources for you:
- How to set your long-term, year and quarter goals.
- How to turn your goals into processes.
- How to form new habits.