“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley, singer-songwriter.
A new year feels a lot like a clean slate. It’s not surprising that few of us can let January pass without thinking about what we want to accomplish in our professional and/or personal life in the 12 months to come.
But though goal-setting is now an established January tradition, studies show 88% of us will drop our new year’s resolutions within three months. That’s because what we may call a goal is often really a burden that we dress up in exciting language.
In fact, researchers at Harvard Business School released a study called Goals Gone Wild that concludes those smart, measurable goals we set so earnestly when the clock struck midnight on December 31 can be dangerously de-motivating.
Here are three key reasons why experts urge us to rethink our approach to goal-setting:
1. Our goals tend to spring from our heads, or our balance-sheets, and not our hearts. There’s hard evidence that we often set as our goal something we feel we ought to achieve, rather than something we genuinely want to achieve. When that’s the case, we tend to put the goal on the backburner and turn down the heat.
2. Goals can detract from our current happiness. If that comes as a shocker, consider what behavioural scientist James Clear writes in Entrepreneur magazine: “You’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. ‘Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.’ As the Harvard study indicates, you need to feel you are already successful to keep you going when the going gets tough.
3. Achieving our goal can bring our progress to a crashing halt. After we reach our finish line, we can hit a low. Olympian gold-medallists often speak of a terrible sense of purposelessness that can follow a big win.
With this in mind, all divisions of The Bagg Group family have long adopted a different approach to goal-setting that has helped put ourselves, our clients and our candidates in the 12% who follow-through on their aspirations.
Here’s our tried-and-proven strategy for goal setting to help you gallop to your desired destination in 2014, the Year of the Horse.
Ask yourself why your goal is meaningful to you. You may find the answer surprises and motivates you. Even if you are pursuing a departmental goal, it’s important to find a personal connection.
Here’s an example of this strategy works:
Imagine at one minute past 2014, you uncorked the champagne and resolved to find a job.
When the party’s over, ask yourself why you truly want to work.
The obvious answer may be to earn money. But not so fast.
Recruiters for all Bagg Group divisions specialize in candidates who are high-achievers. For this type of candidate, income is vital, but so too is the desire to engage with their work.
Engagement is different for everyone. Some high-achievers are engaged by the chance to have a voice around the table. Others want to be part of a team.
When you figure out why your goal truly matters to you, you automatically come up with a process to achieve it that will be interesting to you – and so help you stay on track.
Take the case of that job candidate who wants to contribute ideas: A candidate who identifies this goal naturally becomes interested in staying abreast of trends and innovations to ensure their ideas are relevant. That candidate becomes motivated to research more, and inevitably posts more on linkedin and other social networking sites. They attend more industry events and request more informational interviews. As a result, their networks grow and so too do opportunities for full-time or contract work.
Those who realize they want to be part of team will consider different options: Perhaps, even while looking for full-time positions, those candidates may decide it would be fun to temp for special events where everyone has to pull together, or volunteer. That will not only increase their contacts, it will lift their spirits which is so important when job hunting.
Asking yourself how your goal connects to your personal interests is step one. Here are four other proven steps for effective goal-setting that all of us at The Bagg Group family champion:
1. Expect it, but don’t fantasize it: Researchers at New York University found goal-setters who fantasize about optimal outcome succeeded less than those who expect a realistic outcome.
An expectation is built on past experience, a fantasy is built on wishful thinking. The study shows job-hunters who fantasized applied for less jobs, were offered fewer jobs, and had lower salaries than those whose expectation were in line with reality.
2. Just start somewhere: Reams of studies confirm that it doesn’t matter what first step you take to meet your meaningful objective, just do something! Once you get going, momentum will kick in. And reaching your goal is a learning-on-the go process in any event.
3. The steps to reach your goal don’t have to be brilliant, but they have to work for you. A Yale University study found we typically map out activities to accomplish our goal out of habit, or because we copy others. However, the research showed such robotic behaviour can hold us back, rather than move us forward. A goal, and your path to it, needs to be set by you, for you.
4. Identify your metrics and schedule check-ins with yourself: Set metrics for success that you can control. You can’t force someone to respond to your email, but you can control the quantity and quality of your emails. Once a week, give yourself feedback, not criticism, on what you did that week. Ask yourself, “Did I do what I set out to do this week, and if not, why not?” And reflect on what you learned.
All of us at Bagg Professional, Bagg Managed Resources, and Bagg @ Your Service wish you all the best for achieving your goals this year.
In fact, we don’t just wish it, we know to expect it!
By the way: Want a little encouragement for your goal? Check out the website, 43 Things. The site bills itself as the world’s largest goal-setting community. To date, more than three million people have signed on to list their goals, share their progress and get cheered on. Here’s what the site logs as the world’s top five most popular themes for goals:
- Lose weight
- Write a book
- Stop procrastinating
- Fall in love
- Be happy