It’s hard to believe, but the New Year is just around the bend. As we wrap up November and charge full steam ahead toward the end of the year, it’s time to pause, take a breath, and set our intentions for 2019.
Talking goals becomes the norm this time of year as people start to firm up their New Year’s resolutions. However, completion rates tend to be low.
According to Inc., which cited a research study conducted by the University of Scranton, 92 percent of people who set New Year’s goals fail to achieve them.
That’s a startling number, but don’t let it discourage you! This annual ritual of setting goals only gets a bad rap because people don’t properly set themselves up for success. It’s important not to dwell on the stats, but rather to focus on why this happens.
Only you are in charge of putting yourself in that victorious eight percent. So let’s get to it.
The spot you’re in right now likely feels familiar if you set goals at the end of last year.
It’s important to revisit those targets for 2018 and see where you netted out. Did you get healthier? Grow your freelance business? Deposit more funds into your savings account?
We hope your goals were a little more specific than that (more on that below), but the point is that you should be taking an assessment of whether those goals were attained or not.
This is certainly not an effort to make yourself feel bad if you didn’t hit a certain achievement, but rather to give you the insight into why something may or may not have worked.
Perhaps achieving a certain goal within 12 months wasn’t as realistic as you once thought, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t build upon the progress. In this instance, maybe tweaking the goal to accommodate for the next year will set you up for better success.
We learn from both our triumphs and missteps, so don’t be afraid to do a deep dive and be honest. After all, we are always growing and evolving.
As we mentioned above, it’s critical to have very specific goals with real metrics.
Instead of saying “I want to grow my business,” make firmer statements like: “I want to add three new clients by Q3,” or “I hope to increase my net income by 10%.”
Not only will this give you more solid ground to evaluate your success, but it can also make your goal easier to achieve.
As MindTools puts it, “Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.”
Whether your metrics are coming in the form of dollar amounts, percentages, or days, having clearer end goals will help dictate your path toward them.
Break it Down
Similarly, when setting a particularly lofty or long-range goal, break it down into smaller chunks.
Say you want to add X amount of dollars to your income from monthly retainers. Instead of just focusing on the final goal and setting the timer for December 31, 2019, simplify it down into steps.
Maybe you want to achieve a smaller percentage of that goal in the first 90 days, and then grow out from there. Or perhaps you want to get to 50 percent of your goal within six months.
Your industry (or even your own personal schedule) may make way for more rapid progression during a certain month or season, so place a more challenging benchmark for that time.
Whatever the case, setting baby steps along the way will not only give you a better idea of where you’re tracking toward your goal, but will also give you smaller triumphs along the way to help you feel accomplished and more motivated.
Which brings us to our next tip: Setting realistic goals for yourself.
In addition to breaking larger objectives down into multiple smaller goals, be fair when it comes to achieving something in a certain amount of time.
Now don’t get us wrong; it’s great to reach for the stars, and nothing incredible was ever accomplished without pushing the envelope.
However, find your own balance so that your goals are potentially attainable (with some hard work, of course). It’s one thing to want to make big strides in 2019, but it’s a whole other beast to set the bar unrealistically high—it will only inhibit you from recognizing the great progress you’ve made.
Maybe you set one stretch goal for yourself, but make the others doable for the allotted time frame. Your productivity and self-worth will thank you.
Face the Facts
On top of assessing where you may have thrived or fallen short in 2018, considering other facts will help you land on appropriate goals.
You can’t just throw a dart at a wall of random goals—you must be informed and calculated about it to see results.You can’t just throw a dart at a wall of random goals—you must be informed and calculated about it to see results. Click To Tweet
One factor that plays a huge role in our outcomes is productivity. And you already know the key to productivity, right?
Yep, you guessed it: time tracking.
Time tracking is essential to knowing if you are ready and able to take on additional clients or projects, properly invoicing for billable hours, or wasting time on tasks that don’t get to your objectives.
The best part about tracking your time with Timing? It’s completely automatic (with the added ability to enter time manually). This means the burden is off your shoulders to actively track what you’re doing—it’s all happening right on your Mac—so there is no added stress of starting and stopping timers throughout the day.
Not only does time tracking help to assess past weeks, months, or year to find pockets of opportunity, but it can also be a helpful tool as you work toward your goals.
Maybe you need to be writing X minutes a day to help meet a quota, or limit yourself to X hours on a project that isn’t as lucrative as the others. Whatever your individual needs, the data tracked with Timing gives you precious insight into when and how your time is spent, and that will be a critical component to your success in the coming year.
Lastly, never underestimate the power of feedback. As you set your sights on 2019, do a quick audit of your clients, customers, or friends and family to see where you may have room to grow.
Full-time employees tend to have a year-end review to go over the accomplishments of the past year, see if previously set goals were hit, and lay out intentions for the coming months. Even though you may be a freelancer or small business owner, mimicking this practice can be quite beneficial.
Being too close to something can blur our vision. Ask around to see where you’ve met or exceeded expectations of others, or to get a sense of other people’s or businesses’ goals for the New Year.
Who knows? You might be able to pick up some additional projects simply by asking.
The Bottom Line
Think about what you want to accomplish for 2019. Tossing random or vague goals out into the universe will likely not give positive results.
Look critically at the past year, use metrics, and break bigger ambitions into smaller targets. Be deliberate, detailed, and fair in your approach.
You’re in charge of your own destiny. With focus, hard work, and an open mind, you can achieve just about anything. Onward and upward!