The new year is a great time for goal-setting. Without a clear action plan, however, it can be difficult to distinguish between an achievable goal and a mere dream.
Not sure how you are going to achieve your end of year goal? Break it down into manageable, quarter-sized goals that you know you can achieve.
Start at the end.
Start with your end of year goal. Where do you want to be at the end of 2021?
Make this goal as specific and clear as you can. Add quantitative measurements wherever possible, so that you’ll know for certain whether or not you achieved the goal. For instance, “Learn more about sales” is vague; “Complete the classes I need for X certification” is specific and clear.
Once you have the big end of year goal in mind, take four large steps backward. At each step, give yourself an interim goal that will allow you to reach the final goal by the end of the year.
For example, if your year-end goal is “Complete the classes I need for X certification,” your three steps backward may be:
- Complete any course I need to retake and submit my paperwork for certification.
- Have completed the rest of my classes.
- Have completed half my needed classes.
- Determine which classes I need to complete and sign up for them.
Get out your calendar.
Once you have your steps in mind, it’s time to put them on the calendar in the order you plan to do them.
Since the “step backwards” method has you working backward in time, the last goal on the list will be the first one to appear in the calendar year. In the example above, this means that “Determine which classes I need to complete and sign up for them” will appear at the end of Q1, “Have completed half my needed classes” at the end of Q2, and so on.
By working through these quarterly goals in order, you’ll be on your way to completing the entire goal by the end of the year.
Review and revise as needed.
It’s wise to review your quarterly goals every month and your yearly goal at least once per quarter. By doing so, you can adjust your goals as needed.
For example, if you discover you need only one class for certification and you can take it online this coming weekend, you may need to mark this goal “finished” and replace it with another year-long goal. By contrast, if you discover you need six classes and one of them will only be taught in February 2022, you may need to revise the goal to accommodate that timeline.
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