As you think about what goals you want to achieve this year, keep the goals focused, simple and around a specific theme. Don’t try to do too much!
Start with Your Foundation
Remember that you always need to start with doing an evaluation of where you are now. (We discussed this in the last two posts regarding evaluating your foundation and assessing what activities you want to do more of, delegate, or learn how to do better.)
Pick a Theme and an Outcome
Pick an overarching theme (just one!) around which you want to focus your energy this year, and focus on the outcome you want.
If your theme was to build your network, then ask yourself do you want to build your network in one area of your industry? Do you want to get to know a certain type of person in a specific role? What is the outcome – or end result – you want from this area of your work life?
If your theme was communication (to be a better communicator), ask yourself, do you want to do more public speaking? Do you want to improve your writing skills? What is the end result you envision? Perhaps you’ll make a presentation to the Board of Directors, or be asked to present at an industry conference. Or maybe you want to publish a white paper.
You get the idea. Pick a theme, and then an outcome. Make it something that will be fun for you and you’ll enjoy doing. Do you want to gain a new skill set, or build on an existing one? Now is the fun part, so dream a little.
Break It Down into Specific Tasks or Habits
Once you have a theme, and an outcome, pick one or two specific tasks or habits that will lead you to get closer to that goal.
The theme might be a big one, and the outcome ambitious, but all you need to do now is pick one concrete step you need to do first. Break it down into chunks so you can think about what you’re going to do today, this week, and this month.
Don’t think any further than that. Because… You want to take concrete action to get yourself going, and you want to see if the actions you selected work.
For example, if you decide you want to build your network in a specific area, maybe your task for this week was to call three friends to help you brainstorm about who they know and who they could introduce you to.
But, when you called them all, you ended up chatting for an hour and didn’t really get to the point of the conversation. Or perhaps your friends were busy, so you didn’t really get to talk. If your first idea returns less than idea results, re-evaluate and choose a new path. Next week, for example, you’ll send emails instead making specific requests, and asking your friends to reply by a date certain.
Re-Evaluate Your Plan and Course Correct, if Necessary
Re-evaluate with frequency (no less than every month, but more often if needed) to see if the actions you’re taking are working. If not, change them.
Don’t get stuck in doing the same thing over and over again if it’s not productive. Remember that you’re not stuck with one way of getting to the end result.
So, pick a theme, decide on the outcome you want for you, and then take action! Re-evaluate frequently to see if it’s working, and take different steps when needed.
Go make 2012 your best year ever!
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.