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BY Joel Junker

Using Key Words to Stay Focused on Goals

January is the month when we tend to set goals for the upcoming year. To not fall back into old habits, I tried something different in 2015, and it really seemed to work for me. After writing down my goals, I then came up with five key words, or “triggers,” to keep me focused on the goal vs. reverting back to my habitual responses.Goals

Here were my key words for 2015 and how I did with each:

Listen: My goal here was to ask more questions, think before I speak, and be more interested in others. I also wanted to research and read a good book on listening. My Results: I did in fact find and read a book by James C. Peterson titled Why We Don’t Listen Better. His thoughts helped me modify my approach to listening.  Based on feedback from those around me, I made strides toward meeting this goal. However, last night my wife responded to me by saying, “If you would just let me finish…,” so obviously there is more work to be done.

Patience: I wanted to be more patient with my children, to not raise my voice or correct them as often. I wanted to be more patient while driving, waiting in line, and with team members at work. My Results: I sought feedback from co-workers and family regarding this goal, all of which indicated I had made improvement, but I don’t quite feel it has been enough.

Fit: In order to achieve this goal I strove to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and to work out four to five times a week. My Results: I read through Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Body and started following the Slow Carb diet he recommends for ideal results. The “diet” is really a lifestyle change, and I cannot recommend it enough. I also incorporated kettlebell exercises into my fitness regimen. This, along with the diet, and adequate sleep has transformed my personal fitness. I feel great!

Cameron-Brooks Leader: With this key word my goal was to support the company CEO and other leaders, and to engage in healthy dialogue to resolve conflict. I also wanted to make an extra effort to develop people within the organization. My Results: I developed a programmed schedule to develop new team members, hired new members for our team, and had more courage to speak up with colleagues.

Compliment/Positive: This goal was to focus me on recognizing and celebrating the positive attitudes and accomplishments of those around me. My Results: I became more diligent about writing thank-you notes, notes of encouragement and other notes celebrating the positive influences around me. I would still like to work on developing a systematic process to help me verbally compliment throughout the day.

When developing my goals I kept the number of key words at five, any more than this would have likely been confusing or distracting, and lowered my ability to effectively work on each. I also learned there is nothing magical about a year.  The only word I feel will drop off my list from 2015 to 2016 is “Fit.” I will add in another word in its place and hopefully make enough improvements in those that remain to move them off in the years to come.

If you had to create your own four or five words for your 2016 goals, what would they be?

Joel Junker