I know blogs are brimming at this time of year with goal setting due to the magical Jan 1. But I had to throw my 2 cents into the mix, with 4 steps based largely on Chris Guillebeau’s well known Annual Review framework (click through for a template and more specific details), with slight modifications. This is the first time I’ve taken the time to do such a thorough, forward-looking review for myself and I hope it will lead to different (in a good way) results next year. They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and “they” are often right. Like your mom.

STEP #1: Take Stock of the year that just passed:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?

You can break down the past year into subcategories like Chris, who uses Travel, Business and Personal to segment his uber busy life. Just be honest with yourself. It’s good to understand where you are coming from in order to know where you want/need to go. If you had 2010 goals, Chris advises to assess your progress on them before making new ones.

STEP #2: Next, take a long term view of where you see your life going – BIG PICTURE:

  • What it your 10 year vision?
  • 5 year vision?
  • 3 year vision?
  • 1 year vision (this is your 2011 plan)?

This is my add on (stolen from a friend), to ensure that your 2011 plan fits in with your long term vision. Also it can be easier to identify what you want your life to look like ten years out, as opposed to next year. If you have already thought about your 10 year plan (I hadn’t) you can skip this step or update the vision.

Because after googling for “goal” images, this one spoke to me the most. 😛

STEP #3: Organize your 2011 Goals into Categories (remember SMART):

I made four sub categories to organize my 2011 goals in order to make them easier to digest; also I’m kind of anal like that.  I also added a “mission statement” for each category, due to the inner marketer in me. I still need to come up with my 2011 mission statement as recommended by Chris. My 2011 goals are more tactical:

  • Blog/Writing = Community building (facebook, twitter, connecting with bloggers) and Content (insight, honesty)
  • Life Dream Progress = Do (make at least $1 doing what I love), Research/Learn (info interviews with key creative people)
  • Career = Learn by doing (find mentor, gain media relations/event planning/social media experience)
  • Self = Learn technical skills (HTML/Photoshop), financial, travel (Europe, mini trip) and wellbeing (sleep and yoga. Exercising 3x a week has proven to be too ambitious for me).

STEP #4: Keep your goals alive: 

  • Don’t let your plan get too rigid – the plan shouldn’t be written in stone, priorities may shift throughout the year or unforeseen opportunities may arise. Don’t be afraid to make modifications.
  • Don’t bury your goals in a drawer and never look at them again until the next New Year. I plan to print, laminate and post my 2011 Goal Chart in a visible place, to keep them top of mind. I should have adopted this practice with my corporate goals. Chris recommends spending time to review each quarter.
  • Don’t leave your goals to the last minute – it will be tough to cram and complete them in the last 2 months of the year – try to spread tasks over the quarters and break larger tasks down into manageable steps. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

If you had goals last year that never got accomplished, resist the urge to “lightly” bang your head against the wall. As Seth Godin says: “it’s not too late, just later than it was.” Amen. Now go forward little lambs and conquer!

Be who you are. Do what you love,


What tips have you learned with respect to goal setting/life planning?

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