Look both ways: A new approach to new-year goal setting

It’s that time of year when many of us start thinking about what we want to achieve in the year ahead. Some of us set goals, but many of my clients hate the very idea of goal setting. They consider it scary, unhelpful, restrictive, boring… the list goes on.

Whatever your views on conventional goal setting, here’s a new approach you may like to try.

Think of your business as moving along a timeline from its birth to its ultimate demise

Visualise this as a line running from left to right in front of you – ideally draw an actual line on paper or screen.

Be aware that the birth of your business was not the day you started it, but when the first seed was sown. This could have been when you learned the skills that you use in your business, or when you first started to become disenchanted with what you were doing before.

Your business’s ‘demise’ is harder to identify. It certainly doesn’t mean the day your business fails and dies a death. It could be the sale of your business, the planned/anticipated closure of the business, your anticipated retirement – or simply the completion of a project, if your business has a finite task to do.

You probably don’t have an exact date in mind for the end point, but you should have some sense whether it’s in the near future (say less than three years away) or way off in the dim distance.

Plot your current position on the timeline – are you close to one end, in the middle, or somewhere else?

Before you do anything else, take a moment to recognise where you are on the timeline. We are often so busy working in our businesses that we don’t stop to think about how long we have been developing it, or how much longer we want to run it.

Now, imagine you have a lens that can zoom in and out of your business.

Start by addressing the past – the part of the timeline to the left of your current position

Zoom out and observe the pattern of your business to date. Look at its activities, changes of direction, people involved, new services or products introduced, or old ones dropped.

What do you notice? Is there anything that jumps out at you?

Zoom in and identify the strengths, skills, and weaknesses of the business.

What has gone well so far? What hasn’t?

Remember that learning from failures is as important as celebrating success.

Now move your lens to your business’s current state – the point on the timeline where you placed your business now

What’s happening in the business right now?

What do you want to celebrate?

Remember that acknowledging and building on successes is as important as learning from failures.

What do you want to keep and what should go?

What needs to change so that you can make the most of the year ahead?

Now focus on the timeline to the right of your current position – the future

Zoom out again and look at the overall shape of your business going forward.

What do you want this period to look like? What would the best possible outcome be?

What’s the timeframe to your end point? This determines how much time you have left and how quickly you need to move forward.

What do you need to do differently to move you towards your ideal outcome?

Zoom in and identify the specific actions you’ll need to undertake.

Now that you have explored your timeline in some detail, zoom out one final time

Recognise your achievements to date, acknowledge your learnings, and commit to your new actions for the year ahead.

And finally: a word about your personality

For some of us the glass is always half full, and we tend to focus on the positives and neglect the negatives. For the rest of us, the glass is always half empty. We will dwell on the negatives and ignore or undervalue the positives.

Be as objective as you can. Knowing whether your glass is typically half empty or half full, make sure you give equal weight to the opposite view.


Originally published by Enterprise Nation