Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a year for Goals

The view from 30,000 feet as I write this
It’s that time. Blogers everywhere have taken to their respective podiums to tell you about their year, and about “what’s coming in 2013″
This phenomenon often takes different forms:
  • Some bloggers talk about, and give links to their favorite posts (all too often, their favorites posts just happen to have links to their courses or e-books)
  • Some will talk about their personal finances and success factors of their businesses.
  • Others still will look forward to 2013, and will issue their intentions for the new year.

I don’t have any favorite posts (well, that’s a lie – I do)
I don’t share my personal finance stats (I might in the future, but that’s not the focus of this blog)
I haven’t set any goals for 2013
So what do I have to talk about, then?
I know! Let’s talk about you!

All About You

Did you have a favorite post last year? If so, help me out by sharing it on Facebook, twitter, or Google+…okay, you don’t really have to share it, but I’d love to hear about it in the comments. That will help me to deliver even better content that you want in 2013.
How were your goals for 2012 met? Was your goal to spend all your money and live life to the fullest because of the Mayan doomsday? If so…I’m sorry for your loss, but I bet it was one hell of a year! There is something to be said for living every year like it is your last year ever (though you probably shouldn’t give everything away every year)
What are your goals for 2013?  Do you have New Years Resolutions? (I hate these – more on that later) or do you have hard and fast goals for 2013? You should use Strategic goals, instead of tactical ones.

How to Set a Goal

An example of a strategic goal for a blogger might be “Increase my subscribers by 200 during the year”. That’s a good one because it has a lot of sub goals attached to it. 
  1. How can you get 200 subscribers without getting 200 regular readers? In fact, you need a lot more readers than that, so now you are also increasing your readership. 
  2. This may mean you are trying to raise your Search Engine Rank. 
  3. To do this, you may need to focus the direction of your blog. 
  4. You also need to work on conversion and retention of subscribers. 

This is the difference between strategic and tactical. Your strategic goal is to increase subscribers by 200. All the other stuff is tactical – it’s the “how” of the goal.

Note: Some may argue that 200 subscribers is simply a tactical goal as part of a larger strategic goal like “to be a dominant blog [top 5] in the personal development space”. That’s a bit vague for me for a one year goal. That is more of a mission than a goal. 
Whatever level you set your goal at, however, just make sure it is something you can act upon, and it will be considered a good goal. Notice that I didn’t say “achieve”. A goal doesn’t have to be something you know you can achieve – it is something you should be able to work towards. Odds are, if you set a goal that you know you can achieve, then you will achieve it by around March, and not have anything else to work on.

Why I hate New Years Resolutions

Ever since I can remember, I have despised the idea of New Years Resolutions. (it should be pronounced New Year Resolution, by the way – bad grammar…what a shame) Even when I was in Kindergarten, I remember making a resolution to give up New Year Resolutions. For whatever reason, I have a distinct memory of being in Mrs. Wagner’s class, and making that statement. I was a weird kid, though – I also was doing simple algebra and figured out how to steal all of the fireman stickers from atop the cabinet. Man I would hate to have had to teach me.
Anywho, why have I always hated New Year Resolutions? I think it’s because of the subtext that comes with setting them. 41% of New Year Resolutions this year are slanted toward Money (specifically, handling it better) That means that in 2012, you are stating that you handled your money poorly. However, it’s not like on January 1, you realized “Holy Shit, I handled my money poorly!” No, you absolutely realized that during 2012 – but you didn’t make the change then. It’s like saying “I’m going to start my diet on Monday.” I have always hated that this arbitrary day on an invented calendar seems to have such a huge effect on everyone. This is why this post is coming out on January 2nd, instead of December 31st. This way, you are not setting a New Year Resolution – you are setting a goal for 2013.
My thought has always been “well, the Universe doesn’t give a hoot that it’s now 2013, so why should I?”
I understand the power of goal setting, however.

Why I give you permission to set Goals for 2013

Even though I hate the resolutions – I realize that the concept of a new beginning is very powerful for most people. It’s one of the benefits of the cyclical nature of our society. It is also beneficial to put a time frame to our goals. However, I ask one favor. Don’t make a resolution. Resolutions are usually made to be broken. In fact, come March – tell people you are still keeping a New Year resolution. They will be absolutely shocked. Our society expects people to give up on their resolutions. So, if you already made one, start ignoring it today - as opposed to January 4th where I suspect most people give up on their resolutions. 
Instead, set a goal for 2013, or even multiple goals. Be specific, though!
Examples of Bad Goals:
  • I’m going to [eat healthier, work out more, drink less, etc.] this year
  • I’m going to manage my money better this year
  • I’m going to be nicer to people I meet this year
  • I’m going to finally find a job I love this year
Did you notice how vague those are?
Examples of Good goals:
  • To lose 30 pounds this year
  • To work out 3 times per week this year
  • To limit myself to 2 drinks per night, twice per week
  • To track my finances using mint.com (or any other method – define it!) and reduce my spending on [food, bars, gas, clothes] by 15%
  • To compliment at least one person every day
  • To get a job working on alternative energy projects which I am proud to tell my family about
Did you notice how ultra specific those are? Also, did you notice that instead of using the format “I’m going to”, I changed it to “To….”. This is a subtle change, but it gives our goals more a feeling of a mission, instead of being something we’d like to do…if we get around to it. Lastly, those are actionable – you can work to ensure you compliment one person per day. “Being nicer” is hard to act upon, because it is so vague.

I also like to set a margin of error on those weekly/daily goals. I used to set a goal (working out every day was one) and then when I missed a day, I was a failure. Now, I set in a margin of error so that I can still be successful. For example, I would now say “To work out 3 times per week this year, for at least 45 weeks”. Now, if I miss a week, I’m still within the reach of my goal.

Get Goal Reminders Monthly

Take ten to thirty minutes right now, if you haven’t already, and define your goals. I’d recommend you keep it in the 1-3 range. That way you will not lose focus.
Tips for setting your goal:
  • Make it specific
  • Make it actionable (something you can work on)
  • Make it meaningful (setting a goal to work out 3 times a week is pointless if you don’t actually want to work out)
Next, fill out the form below. Once a month, I’ll send you a reminder that you should be working toward your goal. Since you don’t have to worry about remembering your goal, you can focus on achieving it! Don’t worry – the only e-mails you get as a result of signing up for this will be reminders to work toward your goals. 

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Get a Monthly Goal Reminder

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Additional Reading

Goal setting is nothing new – below is a list of some good reading regarding goal setting

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One Response to Skip the Resolutions, 2013 is a year for Goals

  1. Euchrefan January 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    To further the definition of a “good” goal. I have used the S.M.A.R.T. method.

    Specific
    Measurable
    Attainable
    Realistic
    Time bound

    This seems to align with your notes above. I like the use of SMART goals because it’s easy to remember and it helps you think through the goals to make sure they are written clearly.

    Also, the goals don’t have to all be for the year. You may have a goal you’d like to achieve by lets say August. So it’s okay to include that in your goal so you’ve given it priority.

    I haven’t made any resolutions in decades. And I haven’t got any specific goals right now. So I think this is a good time for me to do it.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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