At the start of every year, I write an article on New Year’s Resolutions. This year I wanted to take a bit of a broader look at goals in general and goal setting in particular. There is a famous quote that says: “Goals are dreams with a deadline.” There is much wisdom in that quote as it summarises the whole idea behind what goal setting is. Thus in a nutshell goalsetting is aiming toward a specific end product or action while keeping yourself accountable for achieving that behavior/product/action by a particular date.

I am eagerly anticipating the release of Dan Pink’s new book, When. In the book, he explores the “psychology of timing.” There’s another often used saying that says: “At the right place, at the right time” or the opposite which states: “At the wrong place at the wrong time.” Dan Pink looks at this concept and explores the timing of actions. When is the right time to start a diet or when is it the right time to have a nap? My question to you is, when is it the right time to start working towards your goals.

My inspiration for writing this article comes from a post by a Facebook friend, Karl Raats, where he asked the question: “Why is everyone so excited about the new year?” As if one day is going to make a difference. 2018 is my year. This is the year I am going to do … His conclusion to his rant is: Do it now! Put down that cigarette now. Pick up the running shoes now. Start reading that book now. Start saving now.

However, I digress, the application idea I want to leave you with today is about how to ensure you get the most out of your goals. I am in the process of working my way through “The Psychology of Performance – How to be your best in life” by Dr. Eddie O’Connor. This lecture series is part of The Great Courses series on Audible. In this lecture series Dr. O’Connor discusses goal setting and shares the following ideas to ensure that you achieve your goals:

  • Set Moderate Goals

In the SMART goal setting system, we refer to goals that need to be Achievable and Realistic. Easy goals may not be worth pursuing while tough goals may do more to demotivate you than to inspire you. So when you set goals for 2018, set reasonable goals.

  • Combine short and long-term goals

For maximum effect, it is most effective to combine short and long-term goals. Let me attempt to explain this using an example. You could have a goal of losing weight and connect this with a goal to join a gym. The idea is this, losing weight is a long-term goal as continued sustained weight loss does not happen overnight. Therefore, you could become demotivated if this was your only goal. Joining this long-term goal with a short-term goal of joining the gym you have built momentum towards achieving the ultimate goal of losing weight.

  • Write it down

Dr. O’Connor states that cooperative and participate set goals are more effective than assigned goals. (There’s a whole article in the above statement, but more on that another day) The idea here is that private goals have no impact on motivation or goal achievement. Therefore, make your goals public by writing them down. I have previously written about the effect of writing down goals.

Finally, I want to conclude, by repeating Karl Raats’ advice: “Happy NOW Year” Let 2018 be the year from NOW. Do not wait until tomorrow or until you get a raise, do it NOW.