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Effective Goal Setting for the New Year

Having 39 years in executive positions, including 25 as a credit union CEO, it's fair to say that I have experienced both the rewards and consequences that result from goal setting done right and done poorly. The benefits of goal setting, when done correctly, can propel you and your organization forward and achieve its objectives; spur positive behavioral changes in you and your organization; and eliminate much of the chance in your life and replace that with choice.
This is the time of year that we as individuals examine our lives and often we don't like what we see. Family life, physical development, and financial/career development are a few areas that almost always come up with my clients.
It is also the time of year that organizations and the departments within it begin to reflect on the year that passed and what was accomplished, what was not, and examine the results and consequences of the achievements and inactions. Annual goals reviews are useful and should be a part of your strategic planning follow-up.
I begin a conversation with decision-makers by asking, "Where does the business want to go?" That is a great place for you to begin with your annual introspection. Where do you want to go? Keep in mind, there are horizontal connections/interactions in all organizations and personal lives, so while you can apply goal setting to each part, that usually isn't possible with the collective, e.g.: Johnson & Johnson with over 300 companies, or you organization with its many departments and functions, or your personal life with their different personalities and opinions.
1. Where do you want to go? 
2. What is the most important issue you are facing right now? 
3. What is it that you are struggling with? 
4. Do you have a dream you have given up on?

To increase the chance to achieve your goals, use the proven method of SMART and review progress frequently, maintain a system of accountability and acknowledge that goals are always stated positively. You are more motivated when you focus on the rewards you expect to gain for accomplishing your goals and the consequences you could suffer for not accomplishing them.
As you ponder the questions above, start by developing categories before setting specific goals. Examples of personal critical goal categories are mental development; social development; physical development; and financial/career development. In your organization those may be financial stability; increasing loyal customers; and employee retention.
Then begin with an individual goal planning sheet for each broader category that examines obstacles, solutions, action steps, dates and to whom that action step is delegated. It's written, specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Most importantly, the goal is YOURS. Success is the continual achievement of your own individual goals, stabilized by balance and purified by belief.
Deal with each set of solutions one at time; set an evaluation date for when you will have completed each of the action steps you selected; get assistance for actions you cannot do alone; review the evaluation dates to ensure they are realistic; and create some positive affirmations that express your worth and ability to meet this goal. I like visual affirmations such as photos as that is a tool that helps you. Keep the affirmations in prominent places to stay focused and motivated.
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