New Twist on Reaching Goals in 2017 – Focus on Progress, not Achievement


If you’re like me, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is the most inspiring time to set goals for the coming year. Perhaps it’s the lull in activity, or that it’s cold outside, or that I see January 1st as a endued with special powers to turn me from chronic procrastinator to achiever; when I’ll magically have enough willpower to go for a brisk morning walk and then sit down to write for an hour every day.

Of course by the second week in January, I usually join the 92% of people who fail in their new year resolutions.  Sure I’ve tried variations using the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting techniques, and tried writing goals down, and tried promising myself a reward if I succeed.  You’ve probably tried these yourself.  It didn’t work.

So it was with tepid optimism that I recently attended an “Achieving your Goals” workshop to see if I could learn something new.   And Holy Crickets Batman!  I did.  Allow me to share my Aha! Moment.

Create a feedback loop that assesses progress not achievement

Normally we set a goal (write for one hour each morning) and if we don’t reach it, we label it a failure.

But when the feedback loop is built-in, you’re almost not expecting success, but simply to review your progress after a week and make adjustments by looking at what worked, and what didn’t.

For example, let’s say my goal is to write one hour each morning.  But after a week, I only succeeded one out of five days. The other 4 times I could only manage 10 min sessions, which I notice all happened in the afternoon….Hmm.

With this method, I could adjust my goal to be. Write 20 minutes each afternoon.  A smaller -yet attainable- time chunk, and a different (better for me) time of day.

After a second week, I again see what worked what didn’t and adjust again.  Maybe I still missed, or couldn’t’ do 20 minutes.  I could adjust the goal to Write 5 minutes each afternoon.  Notice I can’t let myself off the hook because I “failed”.

So, not failing you continue to modify the goal (with tiny steps if necessary) to accommodate your own blocks and leverage your own advantages in order to make progress.  Progress through practice, even when incremental, is what leads to achievement.  That’s the secret this year.
Happy goal setting!

Originally posted on HR Box Blog.



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