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By Therese Lardner

This time of year is perfect for reflection and planning. In all parts of your life, put some thought into what has really worked for you, which goals you have achieved, and what the next 12 months will hold for you and your loved ones.

In my view, goal setting is different to a New Year's resolution. A resolution tends to be an aspirational goal, something that would be fantastic to achieve and a bit of a feat if you really did pull it off. Goals on the other hand should drive everyday decisions and actions, something that seems so certain that you are sure you will achieve it. Here is a process for setting goals that is a little different, but is sure to result in targets that actually mean something to you and your family...

Set aside a half hour of uninterrupted time where you can truly focus on the process of goal setting. It will require your concentration and attention to really be effective.

Start by brainstorming on four separate pieces of paper (or four documents on your tablet/laptop) titled Personal Goals, Work Goals, Family and Fun Goals, Community Goals. For five minutes per heading, write down as many goals as you can think of. Don’t censor yourself, or think about how you will achieve them. There’s no need to be too specific at this stage.

Choose one goal under each heading that you would like to achieve in the next 12 months.

Here is the part that will make your goals stick. Spend a few minutes with each of your four goals and write a few sentences on why you want to achieve it. This is the drive, the motivation, the certainty. What will happen when you achieve this goal? What will happen if you don’t?

Now get specific. For each goal, work backwards from the final goal in three-month steps. Here’s how it would work:

Goal: Build a strong network of professional contacts to increase my employability and knowledge of the industry (to be achieved in 12 months’ time)

I now reflect on what the step before achieving my goal would be, at the nine-month mark.

Nine months: attend industry networking events and contribute to online forums to cement my reputation

I do this again at the six-month mark.

Six months: meet with one contact per month, or interact online/email/phone to continue to build my network

And so on for three months, and then your starting point.

Three months: connect with contacts on LinkedIn and continue to add to your list of key players/influential people that you would like to network with in person

Starting point: review my LinkedIn profile and ensure I understand how I can get the most out of the website.

You can see that if you now start reading from your starting point and through the three, six and nine month milestones, there should be a logical progression of action points toward your 12-month goal.

Make note of your 12-month goal and the quarterly milestones in your diary or outlook calendar and set reminders against them to ensure that you focus on each milestone as the time comes.

Write out each of your four 12-month goals somewhere that is visible to you everyday (for example, a daily reminder on your phone, in your work diary, on a piece of paper on your mirror at home etc). Spend just two minutes each day thinking about how achieving each of these four goals will make you feel. Remember the "why", the drive and certainty that those goals will come to fruition.

This process may be a little different to the typical method that you’ve used in the past, but I can almost guarantee that your focus on goals set the traditional way tapers off after only a few weeks or months. By connecting to the "why" and working on action points throughout the year, your focus will remain on something truly meaningful and it is much more likely that your daily actions will help you in achieving your goal. 

Therese Lardner is an Australian-based registered psychologist with extensive experience in all areas of the employment cycle from recruitment and selection to development, employee engagement and career transition. Click here to ask for her expert advice on landing your perfect mining and resources job, moving up the career ladder or dealing with job insecurity. 

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