That’s the question I’ve been asking myself with the new year upon us. The beginning of a new year is a great time for renewal and laying out your plan of where you’d like to go.
In the same way that a ship’s captain lays out the travel plan to avoid storms and reach the final destination, it’s important for you to chart a course so you can control where you want to go rather than letting the wind blow you where it will.
For myself, I’m on the verge of finishing my major goal from last year. In a few short days, I will be running my first marathon. So as I cross that off my list, I’m looking forward to sitting down with my compass to chart my course for the new year. This will mean laying out my annual goals.
As I lay out these annual goals, I’ll try to keep to the following principles:
- Keep them Limited: One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Leo at zen habits is that you can’t do everything. If you limit the number of goals you’re focusing on, you’ll feel less stressed and make more progress.
- Keep them SMART: This is an acronym for how you should create your goals. They should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
- Keep them Role-Based: Stephen Covey introduced me to this idea and it was useful to bring some balance into my life. He recommends that you define different roles for your life (eg – Father, Business Owner, and Athlete) and set goals for each role.
But, as important as it is to lay out goals and work toward achieving them, remember that life is a journey and more often than not, it’s the striving for these goals that you should enjoy, not just finishing them.
As I close the book on my marathon training, I look back on my long runs as some of the toughest and yet greatest moments of my life. On my 20 mile run, for example, I pushed myself farther than I thought possible and yet felt fully alive. Even without completing the marathon, I’ve learned a lot about myself just by training for it.
So as you chart your course for 2009 don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind. -Seneca