Anna Raney, director of leadership and culture development at Polston Tax, recently discussed how to best set goals both personally and professionally.
Here are some of her tips:
Set SMART goals.
S – Specific (or Significant)
M – Measurable (or Meaningful )
A – Attainable ( Or Action-Oriented)
R – Relevant (Or Rewarding)
T – Time-bound (Or Trackable)
“We have probably all heard some version of this,” Raney said. “But I think it is good to keep at the front of your mind as you are thinking through your goals.”
Write down your goals.
Raney said writing out goals is like storing your goals on both an external and internal hard drives. Writing them down commits them to your memory while also creating a visual reminder that you can reference easily to remind you to stay prioritized to your goals.
Keep your goals attainable.
With goals, don’t try to achieve more than is possible or your goals will fall flat, meaning you might not accomplish anything, she said. Instead, try to mitigate behavior so that you are changing habits in a way that is manageable and long-lasting.
“How did you show up every day while trying to achieve your goals?” she said. “And those actions are helping you to become a better person. Those actions are actually helping you become a better person and that more important than the goal itself.”
Adjust your mindset.
Hitting your goals and improving is a daily journey, Raney said. Adversity always comes, and you have to learn to respond proactively to adversity. “Who you become is a determinative of how you show up, and how you respond to obstacles is something you choose,” she said. Adjust your mindset to focus on the positive things that happen during a day.
Choose small changes and work to be consistent.
As much as you would like to believe that you can completely overhaul your life and make a 180-change stick, no one changes their habits all at once, she said. It only happens with focus on taking small steps of change to gain a 1% improvement every day that will add up over time.
“Pick just one small thing you want to work on and put it into practice,” Raney said. “Remember that things done consistently over time create the most significant rewards, becoming the real habit changers. Stop looking for the complete life-transformation. Live in the moment, because it’s here in the every day that your best life happens”
We all like to believe we are hardwired to multi-task. But none of us are. Even if we’re slightly good at it, or appear to be rocking it, it catches up and slows us down. It all has to do with context switching in our mind—which burns up energy. So while multitasking may initially sound like you’re being super productive with your time, switching back and forth actually eats up creative flow and productivity.
Instead, block out time in your day so you can give dedicated focus on just one thing at a time, and get it done.
Set rewards for reaching goals.
Finally, we all want to see the efforts of our hard work towards goals. Set realistic rewards that can be symbolic gestures to yourself that you’ve reached a new milestone.