Forget the list of New Year’s resolutions, sister! In 2010 a colleague of mine, Aaron Ross – who incidentally was the original Mr. Quality Casual and is now happily married with three kids and one on the way! – shared a very simple practice regarding the concept of intention and goal setting.
When I received the email from Aaron explaining this new concept, I was relieved: finally, a simple system for creating a meaningful year of growth that REALLY works. Since 2010 I have practiced this exercise each year, and I get such joy out of reviewing the lofty goals I’ve set and the amazing results I’ve been able to achieve. And so I highly recommend that this year, instead of getting bogged down with the same old “New Year’s Resolution List”, you join me and go through this exercise at least a few days before January 1, 2013.
Here’s how it works…
If you could accomplish only five things this year, what would they be?
Do this and you will zero in on the few, most important things to focus on (whether consciously or unconsciously) for the year. And remember, keeping it simple enables you to have a laser focus for the year and say no to projects, activities and other “bright, shiny light” distractions that pop up over the course of the year.
Focus on a few goals that are simple and meaningful to YOU that you believe you can accomplish. Make sure these are your dreams, not a list of icky “shoulds” that have been on your list for years!
Here’s an example of a clients goals from 2012:
Sarah’s Goals for 2012
1. $100k revenue
2. Travel to Ireland
3. Join a women’s group to meet new friends and stick to it.
4. Hire a housekeeper.
5. Start online dating and stick with it until I find someone I want to get to know.
Sarah’s Results for 2012
1. Result: I got the promotion and am making my desired income!
2. Result: I found a great gig on Travel Zoo! Ireland rocked and I met a cute guy during the trip!
3. Result: I love the women in my book group, plus I read great literature this year. I feel smarter and have cool new friends!
4. Result: Hired Stella to clean the house twice a month. It’s heaven on earth!
5. Result: Yep! I met Steve and we dated for four months. Single again, but really happy!
Sarah hit about 80% of her goals, which was perfect: they should be a stretch, but not so much of a stretch that they become paralyzing.
Now let’s take a look at Sarah’s goals for this year!
Sarah’s Goals for 2013
1. Get a 10% raise, become a better leader and earn more respect at work.
2. Organize a book/travel trip with my new book club friends.
3. Start yoga and stick with it.
4. Start writing my book.
5. Look at my dating patterns and lessons from 2012 and enroll in a program to learn more and meet someone who has long-term potential!
Note that all of Sarah’s goals are easy to remember. You don’t need to check some complex Excel sheet to know what’s important to you!
The best part of this system is that it’s SIMPLE. It may take you a few days or weeks to flesh these out, but I promise it’s totally worth it. And, when you have a simple plan, you can put systems and resources in order to make it happen!
What’s more, when you have such a short list of key goals, it makes it easy to stay on track. And, it makes it easy for your coach, friends, family, etc. to support you in achieving the life you want.
Now It’s Your Turn: Six Steps to Set Your Goals!
1. Brainstorm: grab a blank piece of paper and take five minutes to list out ten or more goals.
2. Envision being one year from today, like January 2014 and looking back on 2013. What goals would be most satisfying and meaningful if accomplished?
3. Select the top five goals that resonate with you most.
4. Write these five goals down in a new place. Edit and play with them for a day or a couple of weeks until you feel solid with them. They should feel like a stretch but not too much so.
5. Post them where you will see them, and tell your friends and family about them!
6. Take a first step. What is one thing you can do to make progress on one goal? Make it a good one – not a super small baby step that doesn’t take much effort!
So there ya have it – The “Keep It Simple, Sister” New Year’s Intention Setting System. If you’re feeling brave, and want extra support, share your five goals in the comment box below!