The new year brings opportunity for a fresh start. To set new goals, to create a new you, to become the hero in your own movie and start living life on your own terms. It’s an opportunity to begin the journey into a place in our lives that we’ve never been before. For many, this beginning is also a pivotal period to lay the foundation for what the rest of the year will look like.
In the bestselling book, 7 Unstoppable Starting Powers, I discussed the effectiveness of the Principle of The First Advantage and how you can leverage the opportunities that comes with new beginnings. It’s a powerful tool that can be used by anyone to intentionally create bold, daring, and pleasurable experiences that become anchored in your mind, as well as that of key people in your life; especially those whom you have leadership responsibility over — family, career, business, etc.
As you create these ‘first’ experiences, you automatically create a frame of reference, and powerful anchors for subsequent experiences throughout the months and years ahead. For example, what you do on your first day in the new year, your first week, first month, first quarter, first day in office, first communications to your family, first email to your team, and so on. The Principle of the First Advantage helps you to recognize golden moments that can be leveraged to generate momentum and alter the trajectory of any area of life.
A study conducted by the British researchers, Gillian Cohen and Dorothy Faulkner found that 73 percent of vivid memories were either first-time experiences or unique events in our lives. In other words, we tend to remember events from the beginning of a phase of life rather than in later days or years.
Goal setting exercises done during transition periods, such as the beginning of a new year, offer incredible opportunity to leverage this principle to create and re-create the future.
There are many reasons people don’t set goals. And for many who do, they do it with little knowledge of how to set goals that are compelling enough to inspire and motivate them to keep going; even during the most challenging period of the year..
But setting goals doesn’t have to be tedious. With the appropriate guide and accountability systems, you will be able to craft meaningful goals, stay fired up, and execute relentlessly with a high chance of achieving those goals. This is why I created the Goal Setting Workbook that utilizes powerful tools for creating audacious goals in 7 key areas of life. It also includes the steps to translate those goals into reality. With this guide, you will achieve results faster than most people ever do in years.
Here’s a 7-step guide for an effective goal setting exercise:
1. Begin With An Empowering ‘I AM’ Statement
Begin with positive affirmations. The phrase ‘I AM’ has been studied for years, and have come to be regarded as one of the most powerful phrases in the English vocabulary. Whatever follows the two words ‘I am’ tend to affect the human emotions and the subsequent actions that are unconsciously triggered. So, begin your goal setting exercise by reminding and affirming to yourself who you are–even when your current reality doesn’t look like it yet. This exercise will mentally condition you to reach for the greatness inside, your worthiness, and it will keep you motivated.
2. Create A Brag Sheet
I found this exercise to be one of the most effective steps to document your most compelling credentials from your past, so you have the strength and credibility to face the new year and pursue your goals. No matter how challenging your past may have been, your brag sheet will uncover the genius and hero that overcame those challenges. And you can constantly tap into that inner hero to face the future. So, create a list of a minimum of 25 reasons, wins, accomplishments and events in your past that you are most proud of. Let them flow until you have your best 25 evidence of how incredible you are.
3. Ask The 6 Power Question to Create SMART(er) Goals
Set SMART goals in at least these 7 key areas of your life:
- Health & Wellness
- Education & Personal Growth
- Family & Relationships
- Business & Career
- Community & Service
For a start, set about 3 goals for each area. One of the reasons most people fail with goal setting is because they have too many goals to pursue. This brings overwhelm, and makes it easy to quit. As you check off some of your goals after accomplishing them, you can always add more, and set new goals.
SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely. I recommend to flip things over and replace ‘Measurable’ to ‘Motivating’. An effective and compelling goal must connect to your core ‘why’. If your ‘why’ for any of your goals doesn’t light fire on your behind, that goal is dead on arrival. So, consider only goals that motivate you and connect to your core why while using the other components of SMART to measure your progress.
In addition to using the SMART model, the 6 Power Questions of ‘What, Why, When, Where, Who and How’ (also known as the Principle of 5Ws and 1H), provide effective guide for creating compelling goals. This principle is often used in journalism research and police investigations. It is a simple formula for getting the complete story on any subject. Your goal setting exercise should utilize the ‘5Ws’ to define and create the framework for each goal, while the ‘H’ defines how you will execute in order to accomplish them.
4. Create A Not-To-Do List
Another reason most people fail with goals and commitments is because they have a long list of ‘YES’ and a short list of ‘NO’. To set goals that are achievable, you must leverage the power of saying NO to things that don’t contribute to your future. The word ‘NO’ ensures you are attracting the things you want, while repelling the ones you don’t want in your life. Saying “NO” is therefore one of the most strategic decisions you must make in the new year. It will dramatically improve your effectiveness and guarantee that you are always focused on the highest-impact actions that will move you closer to your goals everyday.
5. Create A Present & Future Gratitude List
Incorporate gratitude into your goal setting exercise and make it a big part of your life in the new year. Here are two ways you can approach gratitude journaling and incorporate into your goal setting exercise:
- Journal at least 1 thing that you are most grateful for, every day of the year. With consistency, by the end of the year, you will have a minimum of 365 collections of the best moments of your life. And with such formidable “credentials“, depression, negativity, defeatist-mindset, incapability, and a not-enough mentality are crushed momentarily.
- My second recommended approach is the practice of future gratitude. Pretend as though you have accomplished any of your goals. Step back and ask yourself how you will feel when this happens? What exactly will you be grateful for when you accomplish the goals? Go ahead and proactively list out at least 12 things you will be grateful for.
6. Create A 90Day Challenge
The last stage of your goal setting exercise is to select 5 to 7 of your goals (preferably, one from each area of your life), and create a 90Day challenge. Start the new year strong by identifying goals you are passionately committed to over the next 90 days. You can repeat this every quarter of the year. They must be goals that energize you; and you must be hungry and hyper-determined to accomplish them. They are also the quick wins that will get you started off quickly, and give you the momentum needed for the rest of the year.
7. Review, Renew, Relaunch
Finally, at the end of each month and quarter, review your results against set goals. In other words, does where you are at the end of the month, or quarter look like where you said you wanted to be when you set the goal? The renewal process is a call to be ready to fail forward on any steps and actions you have taken so far that has not produced desired results. Relaunching means to rinse and repeat if the action are producing desired result, and renew to relaunch if they are not. Celebrate successes and wins as you create the challenge for the next quarter from your list of goals.
You can download our FREE and comprehensive 60-page Goal Setting Worksheet. It provides a step-by-step guide and template for creating your best year yet.