Looking to start 2023 right? Me too – the new year brings an opportunity to pause, reflect, and set ourselves in a new direction. Let’s take advantage of it.
I’m not interested in vague resolutions or wishes. I’m interested in writing goals that challenge me to grow and help me design a better life for me and my family. If that also describes you, then I’ve got a few simple activities here you might find valuable.
Now, writing an effective goal takes work – it’s not enough to jot down a lofty statement and hope for the best. A goal needs to be specific, measurable, and actionable.
It also requires the right mindset. In my view, a goal is something to aim for – it should stretch your skills and abilities and your comfort zone. And, because the goal is a stretch, you might not always fully achieve it. To be clear, that is not a bad thing.
What matters most is that you get ever-closer to the vision you have for yourself and your life. And, critically, YOU are the only one who can set that vision.
Pro tip: Instead of just reading this article, I encourage you to grab a pen and paper and use the next few minutes to actually write your goals for the year.
Ready to start 2023 right?
Let’s get started.
FACE HARD TRUTHS
Before you write new goals for the year, you’ve got to face some hard truths:
- You won’t achieve what you want overnight.
- The only way to achieve what you want is with deliberate and sustained action.
For example, I will not have 10,000 subscribers to this blog overnight. I won’t have a thriving 6-figure business overnight. I won’t lose 30 pounds overnight.
But, I do have 10 hours at my disposal this week.
What progress can I make on my goals within that time?
Fill in this statement: I won’t __________ overnight. Say it out loud and just sit with that for a moment. Come to terms with it.
Now, let’s build goals that account for that truth so you can start 2023 right. And, as we do, remember not to take yourself too seriously.
START WITH PRINCIPLES
Sure, you could just name a goal out of thin air. But, what is that goal in service of? And, how does it fit into the broader arc of your life?
I’d recommend naming a few guiding principles before you start identifying new goals.
When I create new goals each year, here’s what I’m telling myself:
- Examine every life domain. Family and relationships, self-improvement (physical, financial, habits, routines, etc.), career/professional development, my portfolio of skills and side hustle projects – all are fair game for growth. But, I can’t grow all of them at the same time. I’ll need to focus my attention in 2-3 areas at a time so that I can make real progress.
- Consider those domains in context. Sometimes, you’ve got a lot on your plate. That’s okay. For example, I have 2 young kids – my goals need to account for the fact that they keep us busy. At the end of the day, they are my greatest and most urgent priority. Everything else that I choose to add to my plate, like a new goal, sits within that context.
- Challenge yourself to grow this year. Acknowledge your comfort zone and imagine the experiments you could run to start stretching beyond that space.
To be clear, these are things that matter to me. You might place value on different considerations.
So, what do you need to account for before writing your goals?
REFLECT & AIM YOUR GOALS
Take time for personal reflection to start 2023 right.
Before you commit to a goal and hold yourself accountable to it, you need to create some spaciousness, broaden your field of view, and get some perspective.
Pro tip: grab a journal and get these things out of your head and on paper so you can see them objectively. It’s much easier to wrestle with a new idea if you can break it apart and see what it’s made of, first.
Reflection also creates space for us to challenge our assumptions, mental models, and stories.
Here are a few that I use every year. Do you notice any parallels between these questions and the guiding principles above? That’s intentional (each step builds on the last).
- How satisfied are you with the status quo?
- What would you like to start, stop, or stay the same?
- What would 10% better look like? 10x better? Now, what’s something in between that’s an exciting but healthy stretch that you could achieve this year?
- Does that make sense in the greater context of your life right now?
- What do you know you have to do that you’re scared to do?
- What would get you excited to get out of bed and work before the sun comes up?
And, don’t forget to look back on the previous year with gratitude – you didn’t grow in the way you expected, but it’s all growth.
From there, you should have enough to jot down a few ideas for goals.
But, we’re not quite done yet.
RAISE THE STAKES
What happens if you fail to achieve your goal? If the answer is nothing, is it really worth the time and energy you need to put in to achieve it?
It’s important to visualize what you gain from achieving something – but I think you also need to imagine what happens in the absence of that achievement.
So, once I’ve settled on a goal, I challenge myself to answer a few other questions:
- Why does this goal matter to you?
- What’s at stake if you fail?
- How will you know if you’ve been wildly successful?
- What’s the best case scenario? The worst case scenario?
Now, let’s make it actionable.
MAKE IT EASY TO START 2023 RIGHT
Starting is hard. There’s a huge mental lift required to begin a new thing – that’s part of the learning process. There’s always extra effort required to build some initial momentum.
That’s why you need to plan your attack – well in advance of “day 1.”
Here are a few questions that I ask myself so that I can break big, sometimes overwhelming goals into bite-sized actions.
- What are the first few steps you can take to get started?
- How could those actions be made smaller? Could one of those actions be done is as little as 10-20 minutes, for example? If not, it might need to be broken up into even smaller pieces.
- How will you keep track of your progress?
- When in the day or week will you do the work?
- How could you make the choice to do the work as easy as possible every day?
Pro tip: I always write the answers to these questions down so that when I encounter obstacles (and I will), I don’t forget or get thrown too far off course.
So, what goals or ambitious projects might help you start 2023 right?
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ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.
It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.
It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.
And, that’s why it’s worth it.