It's that time again - when our minds start to wander to the new year and ponder what we want to accomplish or experience or create in those 12 months.
It's as if we have this socially-constructed and agreed-upon chapter of time....
to create something,
to develop something,
to make something,
to improve something,
to change something....
...whether in our work, families, relationships, communities, habits, health, or character.
Now, let's be real. It's easy to turn the page of the calendar and let life happen.... You’ll be busy. You’ll have important things to do. You’ll have experiences. You’ll weather challenges. You’ll accomplish things. And you’ll make some mistakes.
But one of the unique gifts humans are endowed with is the ability to imagine what they want to create in life (imagine the future) and then intentionally pursue it. Create it. Make it. Fashion it. Accomplish it. Do it.
Research on life satisfaction shows that goals increase a person's sense of meaning, self-efficacy, confidence, happiness, and fulfillment. And it makes sense, right? Goals put you in the driver's seat - which is not to say that you can control everything. However, you can take the wheel, navigate the conditions, and make your way to your destination.
Muhammad Ali once said, "What keeps me going is goals."
People who have goals exhibit more hope and optimism, according to hope researcher, Rick Snyder. And who couldn't use some hope these days?
If you study high performers, you'll find something that unites them: they have goals. They see something in their mind's eye they want to achieve and they take deliberate action toward it.
Edward Locke, one of the developers of goal-setting theory, has found that you're more likely to accomplish a goal that is difficult or challenging. Ironically, easy goals, or what are termed "low goals," are much less likely to be accomplished. They are ho-hum. They don’t engage you.
Challenging goals... goals on the edge of the comfort zone, goals you're not sure you can achieve - increase your focus, attentiveness, and creativity. They cause you to rise to the occasion, access or develop new capabilities and habits. They challenge you forward - into new levels of performance.
So skip trying to make goals that are "doable" or "realistic." Instead, make them big enough to be worthy of your energy, attention, aspiration, time, and skill.
So as you think about 2019, think big.
Another quality of goals that are more likely to be achieved is that they are "magnetic." They inspire you. You want goals that make you jump out of bed in the morning because you care about them.
Now, let's say you have a deliverable for work - and it doesn't seem all that inspiring to you. Yet you see that it’s a goal you have to accomplish. How can you reframe the goal for yourself, so that it is more enticing? So that it connects to what inspires you, what is meaningful to you?
So this goal thing is interesting. It's both science and art. Goals are stories. They weave a plotline that keeps the action going. So why not create a story through your goals in 2019 that is compelling, ambitious, heroic?
To design your goals for 2019, you can start by envisioning the future with this prompt:
Wouldn't it be amazing if (by December 31) ...
Use this prompt for all the areas you want to design goals for - and brainstorm. No censoring, editing. Go for quantity. The more the merrier.
Once you have your brainstorm list, you'll be able to see what stands out, what you want to make into goals for the year.
This is one of the brainstorm prompts in the Goal Starter Kit, which is the prep work for Power Start - an 11-week virtual program designed to help participants start strong in 2019. Each week, I'll be giving actionable expertise on the science of accomplishment and guiding the group to make progress on their own goals - so that by March 31, participants will have made tangible, real-world progress on their goals and can build on this momentum to make 2019 the most fulfilling year ever.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can get the details here: Power Start. I would LOVE to welcome you (and your goal-getter friends) to Power Start. (FYI: We Power Start beginning January 14, 2019.). Join us!