Only a few weeks left in the year, and the excitement we had back in January is starting to turn to dread. There is still so much to do and so little time.
What is still left on your plate to do this year? What can you work on that will make the biggest possible impact as you wrap up 2017 and head into 2018?
You may need to prioritize some tasks over others when it comes to a year-end deadline; if there’s still a lot to do, you might not have time for it all. Look at your bigger yearly goals and yearly theme — which tasks will help you end the year on the right note?
Once you know what you want to get done, it’s time to make them happen. December isn’t the easiest month of the year for getting things done — work often ramps up in the last few weeks of the year, while at the same time, you’ve got holiday obligations and travel to spend time on too.
Is there time to do it all? How can you achieve your goals with limited time and resources?
Luckily, you can still reach your goals by the end of the year by making them SMART. Here is a quick guide to using this simple system for amazingly effective goals.
What are SMART goals?
Setting SMART goals is a results-driven method of holding yourself accountable to goals that you can actually achieve. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Here’s what that really means.
What exactly do you want to accomplish? Why? How will you accomplish it?
In the beginning of the year, you may have set vague goals like, “I want to be lose weight” or “I want to be better at time management.” Now that we only have couple months left in the year, it’s time to be as specific and detailed as possible about what you want to accomplish.
A specific goal might look like, “For 30 minutes every Monday morning, I will use my Ink+Volt Planner to outline my schedule in advance for the rest of the week so that I use my time most effectively.” By phrasing your goal this way, you don’t leave yourself any wiggle room for vague interpretation.
Presumably you’re setting goals to achieve a desired outcome. What is that desired outcome?
This step is rarely included in the goal-setting process, but it is so important. If your goals are not measurable, how will you know whether you have achieved them?
For instance, “writing more” is not measurable, but “writing three blog posts a week” is. What evidence would you need to demonstrate to someone else that you’ve achieved your goal?
Can you realistically accomplish your goal in the next month? This may be the hardest part for those of us trying to accomplish our goals by the end of the year because it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.
Do you have all the resources or knowledge necessary to accomplish this goal? Does your goal depend on the availability of others? Setting impossible goals is frustrating for everybody involved. If your goal seems a little too big to achieve by the end of the year, set a smaller goal that will move you in the right direction.
Instead of “launching a brand new product,” you might set a goal of “conducting consumer research to understand what features customers would like to see in a new product.”
Are your goals moving you toward an outcome that you want? Are they consistent with your yearly theme? Realistically, not everything you do will move you closer to you goals.
You may have work to do that moves other people closer to their goals. You may even have work that moves you away from your goals (e.g., competing demands on your time).
For instance, a goal of traveling the world is great unless it conflicts with your much larger goal of landing your dream job. You might be able to do both, but as the end of the year approaches, it’s important to be purposeful about how you spend your time and which goal will lead you in the direction you want to achieve as you head into the new year.
You’ve been avoiding it all year, but now it is time to set a deadline. Setting a deadline is the single best way to guarantee you meet your goals. This is especially true for passion projects or other goals that are easily pushed back until next month.
Consider the work you need to do and set a goal that is realistic but that will also create a sense of urgency. While January 1st may be an appropriate deadline for some goals (e.g., reading goals, weight loss goals, etc.), others may be better met before the holidays hit.
Writing a SMART goal
Now that you know the elements that make up a SMART goal, let’s review a few examples of how it looks written out all together.
- “By December 1st, I will identify 4 graduate programs that will help me realize my career ambitions and raise my earning potential. I will reach out to potential references, update my C.V., and write my personal statement so that I may start school next fall. I will finalize these applications and submit test scores by January 5th.”
- “Over the next three months, I will dedicate at least 2 hours every day (20 minutes of which will be outlining/brainstorming) to writing my novel so that I will have a first draft finished and ready for edits by March 2018.”
- “By December 20th, in preparation launching for my new business, I will register my domain name and build a website that highlights my skills as a designer, links to my social media accounts, and connects me with potential clients.”
- “Before our next team meeting, I will have drafted a detailed roadmap of our project so that the entire team knows exactly where we are going, the steps that need to be taken by the end of the year, and who is responsible for each step.”
Ready to make progress on your end-of-year goals? Let’s go!
To help you get started, we’ve created a FREE worksheet to walk you through the steps of writing SMART goals.
People fail to achieve their goals not because they don’t have the will, but because they don’t know the how. It’s one thing to want to write a book but a very different thing to know how to do it. By making your goals SMART, you will know exactly what you need to do to accomplish your biggest goals by the end of the year.