Dec 30

When the New Year’s Goal List does more harm than good

The end of the year is near and this is the period in which many of us sit in front of a piece of paper to make a list of the goals we want to reach the next 12 months. We heard the suggestion that it is better to write them, because, supposedly, it’s easy to reach them, so we comply. This, though, might be a problem.
Either the written goals represent a natural prosecution of a list made a year earlier in which we reached 80 to 100% of goals, or if this list comes from a renewed enthusiasm for the end of a disappointing year in which we did not reach what we want, this list will risk to act more as a trap that real support.
Defining, planning, monitoring and reaching goals is a habit that we need to learn if we are not mastering this art, though, especially for challenging, long-term goals, the New Year’s goal list turns into another piece of paper which we will soon forget or that we will check from time to time, disappointed by the lack of progress.
In companies the same things often happens: after a period of bad results of the organization, managers sit around a table and define a list of new, challenging strategic goals to come back with a vengeance. If the company was not used to reach goals until that very moment, a new list will bring confusion and frustration among people, demotivating them. It is as though we realized we did not go to the gym for a whole year and we started to train in January for 4 hours a day. We would quit after three days, both at an emotional and physical level.
When we want to have a fresh start, therefore, from disappointing results, first of all we need to get used to reach big goals. Take your New Year’s list and choose only one Goal. Then define 10 steps, also small ones, thanks to which you believe you can reach one forth of the goal. Give yourselves a month and get used to defining, planning, monitoring and reaching more and more complex goals. This way, the end of the year will not always represent the search for a new beginning, but the happy prosecution of a journey we started a long time ago.

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