As we head into the end of the year, one of the things I inevitably find myself doing (and also with my clients and those I coach and mentor) is re-assessing the goals set earlier in the year.
This is not always an easy process as it forces deep introspection as well as accepting that January’s unbridled optimism has given way to October’s reality. Doing so enables an honest assessment about what will and will not be accomplished during the rest of the year. More importantly, it allows greater focus on new goals or refinement of existing ones that better align with the upcoming year and beyond.
The other upside is that I can utilize Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time) to my advantage, with the January 1 “deadline” acting as a forcing mechanism to hit goals that give me momentum going into the new year. Of course, none of this should be interpreted as giving yourself a “pass” for what you didn’t wind up accomplishing. Rather, it stems from a recognition that your goals ought to remain relevant and achievable.
So how do I “sprint” to the end of the year?
1. Aggregate and Link Goals: One of the reasons goals go unfilled is because we set too many small goals that can’t all possibly be achieved in one year. For your sprint goals, focus on a few macro goals that aggregate smaller or related goals into one easily measurable outcome. For example, I had a goal earlier in the year to shed some pounds (I’ll spare you the exact number) as well as additional health-related goals around more frequent and longer jogs as well as increased surfing time. In setting sprint goals for the rest of the year, I focused on the weight-loss goal knowing that it will require achieving the other ones. So for your sprint goals, be mindful of where you can align smaller sub-goals to achieve the most critical outcomes.
2. Set Goals with 2016 in Mind: Setting goals over the holidays or during the first week of the year leaves me feeling like I am already behind the proverbial 8-Ball to start the year. Personally, I don’t want to start the year at square one. Rather, I want momentum going into the year so that I can use the downtime over the holidays to both refine my goals further and also make tangible progress so that I can accomplish big things in the new year.
3. Let Go of the Goal Achiever Guilt: This is a big one for me. As someone who has “Achiever” among my top 5 Gallup Strengths, I find it difficult to let goals go “unchecked”, even though they no longer suit my longer-term objectives. During this time of year I give myself permission to pivot away from less relevant goals in favor of more focused, shorter-term goals that are directly in line with my vision for 2016 and beyond. Forgive yourself and let go of the goals that no longer align with your medium to long-term objectives and focus on those that do. So while the cognitive dissonance can be unsettling, recognize that this process is ultimately for the best and will allow you to achieve more.
4. Find an Accountability Partner: As with all goals (and with anything really), it’s critical to have an accountability partner to ensure you achieve your sprint goals. So ask one of your colleagues or one of your friends to get your back and help cheer you on to success.
Good luck and enjoy the rest of the year!