It’s January.  It’s your first week back after a holiday weekend.  The Christmas lights are coming down, everything seems grey, and, worse still, HR is bugging you to write your goals for 2018.  If you’re like most people, the thought of writing your goals seems paralyzing, if not downright counterproductive, since you already have so many emails to respond to. 

The biggest problem with goals is that they can seem overwhelming.  Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to lose 20 lbs, or to write your new Code of Conduct, the day-to-day mechanics of completing your goals done can seem daunting.  Frequently people either over-promise (and then under-deliver) or fail to write their goals at all.  Later, in March, someone from HR calls imploring that it must be done this week or else your bonus will be withheld.  How can we make this process easier?  Try these three strategies.

Break it Down

Steve Harvey’s Dad used to say, “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch.”  Instead of focusing on the mountain ahead of you, think about what you can accomplish this month, or this quarter, then multiply it by 6, or even 12.  Think you can perform one webinar training in the next two months?  Great!  Commit to doing 6 by the end of the year.  By thinking about what you already know you can accomplish, you can make your goals realistic.

Schedule your Milestones

Your calendar reminder function is one of the best tools for accomplishing your goals.  Set a reminder for a period of time before your goal is due, then use the “Snooze” function until you can dismiss the reminder because the goal is accomplished.  Let’s use the example of completing 6 webinar training sessions by the end of the year.  Schedule your reminder to appear seven days before the last day of every other month.  You’ll see your reminder before the goal is due, and be able to snooze it until you can dismiss it.  This system will help you to complete the micro-goals you’ve set, so that, at the end of the year, the cumulative effect is a fully accomplished set of goals.

Choose at least one Easy Win

Don’t make every goal a stretch goal.  You want to feel a sense of accomplishment early in the year.  Money guru Dave Ramsey implores people to get out of debt using the “snowball method” where the smallest debts are paid off first, regardless of interest rates.  His method is based on the fact that people are more likely to stick to a program when they see themselves achieving early success.  So, if you choose one goal you know you can accomplish quickly, you’ll set yourself up to successfully more on to the more difficult goals you’ve set for yourself. 

Worst case scenario?  If you don’t hit your stretch goals, you’ll still have accomplished at least one goal, which will go a long way toward keeping HR (and your manager / C-Suite) happy at the end of the year.

You can do this!

Take the 36,000-foot view to see the landscape and to choose your destination, then come back to Earth to take the first steps toward your goals.  Remember, inch by inch, everything’s a cinch.