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Setting Goals for a Great 2014

During my recent trip to Germany, I used a portion of my nine-hour flight time to reflect on this past year, and what it is I’d like to accomplish in 2014.  I thought about what I accomplished professionally this year at Cameron-Brooks, my relationships with my two children and my wife Heather, my relationship with my colleagues, my professional development outside of work, etc.  Most importantly, I thought about how I wanted to improve in those areas and began to make a list of my goals for the upcoming year.


I categorized them into professional goals, relationship goals, financial goals, etc.  I tried to make them as specific and as tangible as I could so when I sit down in the near future to develop a strategy as to how I will accomplish those goals, it will be much easier to do so.  For example, because of how much I travel in my job, I want to make it a priority that I spend more time with my children when I am home.  But, instead of just putting “spend more time with my children and Heather”, I tried to make it somewhat quantifiable with something like “spend at least one hour of alone time per week with each of my children” and “plan one date night per month with Heather.”

I encourage everyone to set goals and put them to paper or electrons.  Establishing goals serves several purposes.  First, it provides direction for your life.  I spent the better part of a decade competitive bodybuilding.  I did it not because I loved the shows and the competition so much as by choosing to compete in a particular show on a particular date, it gave me a focus and a goal to shoot for.  So, when I planned my workouts and my diet, there was a purpose behind it and I had something to work towards.  Second, when you write it down in some form, it becomes more real.  It is now out of your head and onto the paper and you can visually see the goal and that is a great first step to making it happen.  The other important aspect of setting goals is it forces you to think about your strategy to actually making those goals happen.   I am starting to discuss goal setting with my son who is now in middle school.  After all, even eleven year olds have goals.

As you establish your goals for the upcoming year, here are a few guidelines to help you:

  • Set realistic goals.  Setting a goal to be independently wealthy in 2014 sounds great but how realistic is that?  However, setting a goal to establish a sound financial investment plan or pay off a certain amount of debt is much more achievable.  There are times to set the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) but those are not typically listed in one’s annual goals.  I’m not suggesting you set easy goals but they should be realistic and achievable with a sound plan and some hard work.  Plus, it’s a great feeling to be able to cross one of your goals off of your list at the end of the year or sooner and being realistic about your goals will help you to do this.
  • Share your goals with the important people in your life.  They care about you and want to see you succeed.  Plus, by sharing your goals, it increases the level of accountability you will have to yourself to make those goals a reality.  My colleagues, Joel Junker and Pete Van Epps, and I share our goals all the time because they are often intertwined with each other and we are committed to helping each other reach them.  I also share them with my wife and my children (where appropriate).
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve every goal on your list.  They are goals for a reason and sometimes life will get in the way.  Pete Van Epps wrote a great blog recently about keeping a professional journal.  Keeping a goal journal is a great way to keep track of your progress, what is keeping you from reaching the goal, etc.  That way, if you don’t achieve a specific goal by the end of the year, you can look back in the journal to find some tangible reasons why it did not happen and this can help you set a more realistic or a different goal the next year.

As we near the end of 2013, I encourage you to take some time over the holidays to reflect what all you have accomplished this past year, what it is you want to accomplish over the next year, and establish some great goals.  You may just find 2014 to be an even better year as a result.