A raise of hands, please. How many of us have already abandoned our 2018 goals? Wait. What?? We’re only 2 months into the new year!
Research suggests that only 9% of us will successfully meet our New Year’s resolutions.
You’re not alone. I have failed to meet my New Year’s goals many times over the years and it left me feeling discouraged and frustrated. On top of that, because of what I do for a living, I have observed that many high potential leaders also struggle with meeting their personal and professional goals. This was unacceptable to me because I know that goal setting is essential for moving careers forward. If all these emerging leaders were struggling with goal setting, were they not advancing to the professional levels they wanted to achieve? To help close this achievement gap, I created a 5-step SOAR Action Plan:
Step 1: Reflect to Identify Your Strengths
Start by asking yourself these 3 questions:
- What did I accomplish in the last 12 months?
- What does this tell me about my strengths?
- What work do I still need to do?
The important part is not just to pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve accomplished, but to reflect on what your accomplishments reveal about your strengths. Reflecting on our accomplishments and strengths increases the likelihood that you will set achievable goals. For example, I realized that I successfully met my goals last year because reaching those goals required me to enlist other people. However, I was less successful in meeting goals that required breaking a bad habit; such as checking email first thing in the morning. After I gave it some thought, I recognized that if I want to break a bad habit, I need to enlist others to help me.
Step 2: Brainstorm
First, get out a big piece of blank paper or use a whiteboard. Begin to brainstorm a list of goals you would like to accomplish for the remainder of the year. You have a full 10 months left! I personally like the 100 Dreams approach that time-management expert, Laura Vanderkam, uses in her book, 168 Ways. You don’t necessarily have to list all 100 goals, but giving yourself permission to list 100 helps you to be creative in the brainstorming process.
I like to have two 100 goals list – one for the next 12 months and one for the longer term. I use the longer term list to “park” goals I would eventually like to accomplish, but cannot start this year. I use it like a bucket list. This brainstorming exercise will be easier if you brainstorm across a wide variety of categories. Some people like to brainstorm goals in three areas such as work, relationships, and self. Other people might prefer a larger list of categories including financial, career, relationships, hobbies, health & wellness, spiritual, and community.
Step 3: Choose an Annual Theme
Now, review your brainstormed list of goals for the next 10 months and see if there are any common themes. Select one theme to be your focus for the remainder of the year.
Let me share with you some IRL examples. Recently, a participant from one of our virtual workshops told us that she is launching a new product and also starting to practice yoga for the first time. While choosing a theme to guide her goals, she decided that 2018 will be the year of the “Face Plant”. She wants to give herself permission to fall on her face – literally and figuratively as she takes new risks with her business and yoga practice. Another woman decided that 2018 will be the year of “Connecting”. Her goals are centered around building her list of clients, forming new friendships at her child’s school, and spending more time with her family.
Choosing a theme for the year will help you focus on one overarching goal, even when you may have seemingly divergent goals. When you have a clear focus, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Your theme also guides you to choose goals that play off each other; and when your goals all fit together, you are also more likely to be successful.
Step 4: Select One Goal to Start and Create a SOAR Action Plan
In this next step, pick one goal that aligns with your annual theme, and create a SOAR plan to help you achieve it.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A SOAR plan is similar to the SMART goal framework that many workplaces and professionals use. For each goal, complete the following:
Specific: What specific actions will you take?
Orchestrated: What systems/procedures/support do you need in place to aid in your success?
Accountable: Who are you accountable to, other than yourself?
Results: What results do you expect and by when, and how will you reward yourself for achieving them?
As an example, someone who has the goal to lose weight might have a SOAR plan that looks like this:
Specific: Improve my diet by following Whole30
Orchestrated: Never get hungry. Keep dried fruit and nuts in the car, house, office, and purse.
Accountable: Heather. Take pictures of every meal and text to her. Check-in by phone 1x/week.
Results: Lose 2lbs per month until desired weight of 140lbs (result) with a trip to the beach (reward).
Step 5: Track Weekly, Revise Quarterly
The most important step in this process is to regularly protect time on your calendar to review your goals and plan your action steps. Here is the cadence that I recommend:
- Weekly (1 hour)
- track performance to goal
- check-in with your accountability partner
- what action steps do you need to take this upcoming week to make progress?
- Monthly (2-3 hours)
- track performance to goal
- celebrate success!
- do you need to change tactics? If so, plan new SOAR action steps
- Quarterly (half day)
- reflect and celebrate!
- revise and set new goals using SOAR method
- Annual (half-full day)
- brainstorm new goals
- select annual theme
- create SOAR action plans
- optional – create a vision board
The weekly review is the real workhorse in the process and the most critical review. It’s the one where intentions meet reality. In my experience, if you don’t get in the habit of reviewing your performance against your goals and revising your plans weekly, it is unlikely that you will be successful.
The internet is full of resources and tools to help you successfully achieve your goals. Here are a few of my favorites:
Now it is up to you! Take some time within the week to plan out your goals for the remainder of 2018. I would love to hear from you! Let me know what goals you are setting for this year. What systems do you have in place to increase your likelihood of success? Go for it! Make 2018 your best year yet.