Archives for posts with tag: Goals

New Year’s resolutions are old hat, apparently. The new new year thing is New Year’s aspirations.

I suppose the logic is that we resolve to do something and then it falls flat – maybe it’s too lofty a goal, or we can’t sustain it – whereas an aspiration is something more realistic, something we can ease up to, to give ourselves time, to make a gradual behaviour change rather than go cold turkey.

I don’t really start my New Year’s stuff until a few days after the first of January, usually my first working day of January, which is today in fact. There’s too much of a social hangover from the holidays for you to stop dead in your tracks and change direction. You know what they say: stop smoking gradually, the way you started. Also, I tend to be away for New Year’s and then you end up getting home a couple days after the start of the month, and it’s hard to effect real change when you’re travelling.

I like the idea of New Year’s aspirations, though. It fits in with the science of effecting true behavioural change. You prep for change, you change, and then you enforce the change repeatedly until it’s the new normal.

I wish – or aspire for you – a great new normal.

Do you set PAGs for yourself – personal annual goals? Perhaps it sounds a bit too organised, a bit too much like work. Maybe you like to go with the flow and see where you’re at the end of the year. Maybe you don’t think of your life like that and go through it savouring every moment.

If you do like to achieve things, and see an improvement in your life and the lives of those closest to you, then PAGs are a good way of doing that. They stop time running away from you. We know from experience that plans very rarely survive the first incursion into reality, but having some high level objectives keeps us on track and focused on the here and now I think.

I know a guy who sets himself PAGs. They might be things like ‘sell house for x, clearing y profit’, ‘change car’, and ‘earn z before taxes’, those kind of things. He really values them and he’s flying through them at the moment.

I think they work well for achievable or binary things that you have control over, like selling your house for a certain amount. Where they work less well is with big hairy arse goals, or BHAGs as the business folk call them, like get your first book published – not self-published – or getting a child into a highly oversubscribed school. These have a low probably rate of success, yet they’re still binary.

Personal Annual Goals are great ways of stopping time from running away from you, that most precious of resources that you can’t ever get back. In that sense, further chopping your PAGS into half-yearly, quarterly and even personal monthly goals, PMGs, is not a bad idea either.

One of the things I find really useful in work and life, both in terms of getting things done and getting them done well, is this: set the bar high.

From the smallest of tasks to the biggest of dreams, setting the bar high has two chief benefits.

First, if you reach the bar you’re delighted with yourself. You did better than you thought you would. If you don’t quite reach the bar, your slight underachievement against such a lofty target is probably better than you were expecting. Stretching yourself and pushing yourself to go really high means that you’ll give it your all. Setting an easily achievable bar leads to complacency and a sub-optimal improvement curve.

Second, setting the bar high and pushing yourself feels great when you’re finished. It means you’ll be more satisfied more of the time. Challenging yourself leads to more success and more rewards, gets you through down periods or slow periods, and all that becomes a virtuous circle.

It’s not a question of being glass half empty or glass half full. Want to do well and stay happy? Set a bar, and set the bar high in everything you do.