Thursday, December 13, 2007

Better Get Behind The Eight Ball.

On the heels of a week in which we are discussing moving yourself forward (and especially after Curtis' blog yesterday re: how YOU must do for yourself) - time to set yourself up for success in 2008.

Do you know how to set goals? Do you know how to plan long term? Do you have long term life goals, but no tangible path to move you closer to those goals this year? Well then this one's for you!

A. Big Picture. This is where you determine a theme for your year, or a Personal Mission Statement (PMS). This gets all the easier with practice, and you may want to actually hit step 2 before step one if planning a year in advance is a new process for you. The reason is your PMS should help align all of your goals. If you are entering this process like a blank chalkboard; alignment will be tough until you list your goals and pull out the common themes. My personal mission statement of "set the pace for others to follow" has many connotations regarding the pace of my own self development, and the pace at which we on swimupstream plan to lead others; but this is only derived through a strong relationship with what I hope to achieve this year.

B. Long Term Goals. These should be set ambitiously, but realistically for what you hope to achieve in 12 months time. You should set these goals for every area of your life. One model to use and a few examples of each are as follows:
Business Goals: Increase annual revenue by 15%; improve customer retention by 12%
Physical Goals: Hike the Grand Canyon April/ West Coast Trail May/ Bike Moab October
Social Goals: Spend more time with quality people who I can learn from
Spiritual Goals: Make a habit out of meditation; spend more time in nature (or go to church every Sunday for some)
Intellectual Goals: Take 1 course on leadership; read 8 books that will teach me a new skill or improve the ones I have
Emotional Goals: Leave the past in the past by re-tracing where I came from and identifying and eliminating my personal baggage.

While some of these goals may be very tangible (business and physical), others may be more subjective (spend more time with quality people, deal with personal baggage). Nonetheless, it is very important that you set meaningful goals in each area. You will see that the goals that seem very subjective actually turn into very tangible actions and targets over the shorter term. Include as many dates, numbers, and details as you can here, so that you always have a) specificity and b) accountability for yourself in the planning and follow up process. Once the long term goals and accountability for them have been established, we are on to...

C. Short Term Goals. This is usually 3 months at a time. The trick here is to take those big long term goals and turn them into bite-size chunks where you are not overwhelmed by the big picture. Using the above example...
Business Goals: Implement customer retention strategy a,b and c (include dates). Roll out customer survey by Jan 12th. Keep every customer this quarter (insert tracking system here). Increase revenues by 5%.
Physical Goals: Cross-country ski every weekend to build fitness base over winter. By end of quarter transition to hiking to prep for Grand canyon/ west coast trail. Use bike during weekday fitness sessions to make Moab transition easier.
Social Goals: Evaluate every meaningful relationship in my life in terms of what each partner is bringing to the table. Make an informed decision regarding where every relationship is leading each other and re-invest time accordingly - active and well-communicated process. Done by x date.
Spiritual Goals: Meditate 10 min every morning/ church every sunday/ get out to Banff or Whistler or Aspen, Colorado next month for 3 days (book this week).
Intellectual Goals: Book leadership course by Jan 15th. Read book xx and yy to improve my personal accountability and organizational habits (dates). Perhaps swimupstream is that book (BUY Volume I of the Swim Upstream Book Here)
Emotional Goals: Write out the story of my life including every strong influence. Go into detail on the important events that have shaped your life. In what ways do you still hang onto the past? Getting this done will help you understand why and then how to stop this as per your annual goal. Set a completion date, but know that this is a process that may morph into something bigger and should not be rushed so long as you are actively attacking it.

From here again include days/ week that things are to get done, important dates, and accountability for each (be it written in your planner or your electronic reminder, etc). Just as you break down the quarter, now you can take these goals and further break them down into each month, week and each day. The trick is to start with BIG goals - why would you PLAN mediocrity? Once you effectively break down the big goals into little things you can do every day instead of huge things you have to do once or twice, it actually becomes easy to be great and achieve mountains by taking one little step at a time. There is more detail of course when it comes to planning out each day, but we can go into that - the trick is to hit yearly planning and inform you ahead of time so you can use it (it's not what you know but what you do with it).

The key is; do it NOW; before 2008 starts and other people (ie your boss) start throwing deadlines at you from every corner. If you don't prioritize yourself and your own life - no one else will. This is very common, and instead of taking accountability for their own lack of planning, people often blame their boss as being too demanding; when planning ahead could mean meeting all of your bosses deadlines plus all of your own.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if this were the case? Do you have a good reason why 2008 can't be that year? Didn't think so... get busy planning... get busy living!

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