Don’t Set Goals – Set a Theme

At the start of the year, you’ll see, hear and read plenty of advice about setting your 12-month goals.

The trouble with this advice is that twelve months is a long time now! Our world is changing so fast that in twelve months, motivations change, unexpected obstacles occur, and even the reason for the goals might change.

Instead of setting 12-month goals, follow this process:

  • Choose a theme: Set a direction or theme for your year.
  • Set 90-day projects: Create 90-day goals, and think of them as projects.
  • Create weekly action plans: Break down your 90-day projects into weekly milestones.
  • Focus every day: Eliminate distractions and interruptions – especially from e-mail.

Let’s tackle the first of these steps …

Start by choosing a direction or theme for the next 12 months. Your theme isn’t a goal but a direction, and that then influences your goals.

Ideally you have only one theme for the year, although you might choose to have a professional theme and a personal theme.

For example, in your role as a leader or entrepreneur, is this the year for collaboration, embracing innovation, mastering social media, positioning, creating authority, consolidation, leverage, or creating new opportunities?

What about your personal life? Is this the year for better relationships, health, building wealth, rest and renewal, or personal growth?

Whatever you choose, these are your themes, and don’t have to relate to anybody else. However, you might choose to share them with your team, your own manager, your mastermind group, your significant other, or anybody else you trust.

Ask your team to do the same.

Whether you have a tight-knit team (for example, a small group of people working together in the same office) or a loosely-connected team (for example, you, a virtual assistant, and a bunch of regular freelancers), you can make the team stronger by inviting them to do the same thing.

Encourage each team member to set their own theme for the year, and invite them to share it with you if they wish. This helps you to help them.

For example, if their professional theme is “raising my profile”, you can introduce them to some of your LinkedIn contacts, take them to senior management meetings, and find them an appropriate mentor. You can also let them present to the team, chair an online meeting, write an article for the company newsletter, or attend a presentation skills course.

If their personal theme is “focus on family”, you can give them more flexible working hours, not send them to international conferences, and invite families to team celebrations.

If your freelance graphic designer in Romania has a theme of “cashflow”, you can refer her to colleagues, put her on a retainer, or pay her more!

If you have a close-knit team where everybody trusts each other, you might all choose to share your themes with each other. Always make this optional, because some people might want to keep their theme private. Forcing them to share might also force them to choose something less exciting.

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