It's that time of year. Many of us begin to review the hopes and goals that we set for 2010. How many of your life and business goals did you achieve during this past year? Did you make your list, check it twice - and then forget about it? Did your efforts dwindle as the weeks and months passed? Or, did you see success as you achieved the things you set out to achieve in 2010?
Goal setting is a wonderful process, but too often they are unclear, or they don't point to the desired outcome in a very efficient way. If you had a method of identifying your goals and the steps to achieve them you might make more progress. But if the process is stored in a way that doesn't resonate with you it may feel overwhelming, cluttered, unachievable, unmemorable, or unclear and you are not likely to take action.
Would you consider stepping away from the system that hasn't worked for you to consider one that will keep your attention throughout the year – something creative, fun, witty, or even a touch eccentric? You are a creative thinker, why force yourself to create spreadsheets and bullet pointed documents that you may or may not look at during the rest of the year? You have a vision inside of you; how can you get those puzzle pieces from your mind and into an executable plan?
Begin by identifying your learning style. Are you visual, kinesthetic, or auditory? Many of us are a combination. After you assess the style, or styles, that best suit you think of a creative outlet for your year's plan that will appeal to you and keep you engaged so that you will achieve completion. Allow your creative side to come out and play with tools like markers, pictures, white boards, mind mapping tools, scissors, paper, glue and/or sticky notes. You will think of ideas and action steps that may never have occurred to you whilst sitting behind your computer.
Identify your big picture goals. I like to think of a big picture goal as the landing at the top of a beautiful staircase. Each stair represents an actionable step that brings you one step closer to the rewards associated with the big picture goal at the top. Climbing the staircase doesn't feel like hard work if you know exactly what to do to achieve the desired outcome as you make the journey.
Try one, or a combination, of these ideas to spark the creativity; get your ideas into a format that you identify with and track your actions steps through the year. Create a system that you will pay attention to and will keep you on track!
1. Purchase one (or several) poster boards and write your big picture goals at the top. Now brainstorm the action steps for each goal. Draw a picture - or find one in a magazine or online - that represents each step. Or simply write it in a color that resonates with you. This may turn out like a vision board, a mind map, or process map. Keep track of your weekly goals on your new piece of art!
2. Stock up on sticky notes in 3 or 4 different sizes. Use the largest notes to indicate the primary goal. Then identify each action step on the appropriate sized sticky note and build a pyramid-style design on the wall. This is handy because steps can be added, eliminated, or taken off the wall and delegated. You can also use color-coded sticky notes to indicate the action steps for each month.
3. If you do prefer working on your computer, break your goals out into a timeline and set reminders in Outlook. If you break each goal down into bite-sized, actionable items you will find them manageable and you'll feel great when you see things falling into place.
4. A large whiteboard is a visual person's dream. Add colored markers and there's no stopping you! You can outline your big picture ideas and use large index cards (or a computer doc) to indicate the steps and plans you need to put in place to achieve them. Put the index cards in order and complete one each day or once a week – whatever matches your timeline.
5. If you have a difficult time organizing your thoughts, try going for a long walk (or many of them) and take along your digital voice recorder. Process your thoughts out loud and use a system that best suits you to create your follow-through plan.
What follow-through plan works for you? Do you have a creative way of organizing your goals and actions steps that supports you and motivates you to take action? Share it with us here!
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka