Looking Back and Planning Ahead

I've blinked and another year is over. I know I am not alone in feeling this way but I just don't know where the time goes!

Which also forms a handy excuse for not achieving all you had hoped to accomplish in the past year. Blaming being busy and the time flying by is instinctive, but just a short moment of self reflection is enough to remind you that excuses are easy to make, but are not going to fill you with purpose and pride.

Now I am not saying my 2017 hasn't been successful, I have achieved a huge amount this year and I am proud of all of it. Sometimes, however, that can be an issue in itself, it is tempting to be content with the levels you have reached, and not push yourself that bit further.

Which is why I am setting my goals for 2018, and why you should too. I'm mapping out what a successful 2018 will look like for me, and planning the steps I need to take to meet these goals over the next 365 days.


The Importance of Goal Setting

In the recent past I have been part of a mentoring circle, as well as having both a mentor and a coach at different times, all of whom have stressed the importance of establishing where you are and where you want to be. Goals can be set for a day, a month, a year, or 10 years, but now, at the end of a year, focusing on the year to come is a good place to start.

This time last year I asked the London Women in Tech user group the following questions:
All voters said that they had goals for the coming year but 38% didn't capture them, which leads me to my next point as -

"A goal without a plan is just a wish" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

As per the above poll, I doubt there are many among us who feel that they have already met their every ambition. This means that we should all be working towards the next level in one or more parts of our lives.

The most important thing you can first do with your goals is to capture them, don't just dream of how you want certain aspects of your life to change. Write down your desired future state and start planning how you can make it happen.

I've been introduced to various templates and techniques over the years but all that really matters is that your goal is set down. Don't just focus one set of goals, here are some different areas which you may want to target:
  • Career Development
  • Health
  • Personal Development
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Social
  • Emotional Well-being
  • Fun
If relevant identify goals for each of these areas. Think first of where you are now, then where you want to be at the end of 2018. Chances are it won't be an easy leap from one to the other, a year is a long time and a lot of change and progress can be gained in those 365 days.

It is logical to break down your 2018 goals and set quarterly and then monthly targets. This structure may not fit all of your goals but I believe that an ambition you are working to meet in a year should include monthly steps, and some may require weekly or daily undertakings.

Use the technology and tools available to us today to track your progress against your targets and to hold yourself to account. It may help you to share your milestones and development with others, whether with one person (mentor, friend, or partner), a group (your local WiT or Trailblazer group), or with the world (via Twitter). Schedule a time to update your goal tracker and don't let yourself slip too far. A bit like going to a Slimming World or Weight Watchers club, the weekly weigh-in is a key reason for the groups' success.

We are here focusing on a year as it makes sense today but it is also important to have long term goals. What life-time achievements will make you happy and proud to look back on in decades to come? The structure we have looked at for a year can be extended out to cover the next ten years.


Take Time to Look Back and Celebrate Successes

Towards the end of the year I met with my coach again after a gap of 9 months, we went through the goals I had set out at our first session and gave her an update. The boost it gave me when I was able to tick of so many of mine was incredible.

It is important to reflect on our past successes and achievements and let them motivate us for the next set. We all experience self-doubt and need reminding that we are capable of anything we set our minds to. If we think 2017 was good then let's get 2018 underway with a positive mindset and look forward to toasting our accomplishments in 12 months time.

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