Personal planning and goal setting are like flossing; something we know we should be doing regularly, but somehow find excuses why we to forget to do it.  In the time of BC – Before Children – I genuinely looked forward to December when I’d start to formulate exciting personal and business plans for the coming year.  I’d always have a new mission – be bold, be creative, or to seek balance, which would then become the umbrella that protected my various ambitions.  The part I loved the most was reflecting on what had happened the year previously and physically ticking off my achievements.  I found it interesting to see what had apparently seemed important 12 months ago, which had either been totally forgotten about or had morphed into something more meaningful.  What I always loved about planning was the sense of purpose it gave me with a clear and definite direction of where I wanted to go, and who I needed to become to achieve it.

AC – After Children – I got out of my annual tradition, being too tired and distracted to think creatively or selfishly on what I’d like to be doing.  However, 2 years ago I began to feel the urge to put a plan back on paper.  I couldn’t believe the positive and powerful effect it had on myself and my business.  Two years on I was able to tick my desire for ‘giving to the community’ not what I’d previously been involved in but with something entirely new, volunteering with cycling at my local school.  I had reached my then ambitious financial goal easily and I was in the development stage of collaborative work with two fellow coaches.  A personal dream that I’d had several years ago was now a reality as I’d created the possibility for my husband to go down to 4 days a week to spend quality time (well some of the time) with the children.

When I did my plan 2 years ago I had forgotten some of the basic personal development principals:  you are significantly more likely to accomplish a written down goal, you have to start with your vision / dream and effective goals need to be SMART.  It was amazing to see in multi-colour (I didn’t do a black and white plan) what I had made possible simply by paying attention to what I was desiring to achieve and willing to commit to.  At times my plan was a reminder of what my inner yearning was and one yes, one opportunity led to another.

I realise I’m a devotee to personal goal setting and being a small business owner personal and business plans often go hand-in-hand, but current leadership thinking suggest that to be an effective leader you must start with yourself: your goals, your values and your willingness to change.  It’s never too late to write your annual plan and to convince you even further here is a potted history of findings and research on the value of goal setting.

  • Aristotle, nearly 2300 years ago, recognised there were four causes of change, one of which was the ‘final cause’ an exploration of ‘why things come about’.  He wrote that ‘change happening as the result of a defined purpose or end goal’.
  • In 1935 an empirical study on goal setting was conducted by British philosopher Cecil Alec Mace, where he discredited the belief that workers are primarily incentivized by money and found that ‘people are also motivated by the accomplishment of goals.’
  • 1968 found Dr Edwin Locke, a modern goal setting theorist, expanded Mace’s work with Dr Gary Lathan to define the five principles of effective goal setting.  These being: clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback and task complexity.
  • In 1979 Harvard Business School asked a student year ‘have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?’ Only 3% had written goals, 13% had unwritten goals and 84% had no specific goals.  Ten years on, the 13% past students were on average earning twice as much as the 84%, and the 3% were earning on average 10 times as much as the other 97%.
  • When we take ownership of something, a goal or an item, we are more committed to it, something that is called the ‘endowment effect’.  Neurologically it explains how we integrate it into our sense of identity.
  • Zimmerman et al realised that when goals fail they are ‘outcome’ based and are absent of ‘process’, the skills and methods needed to get your goals.
  • In 2011 researchers did a huge meta-analysis of 38 studies on goal setting and found patterns between goals that worked and those that didn’t.  The outcome was that successful goals needed to be MAC: measurable, actionable and competent.
  • As any support groups and coaches know, being accountable and getting feedback supercharges your goals.

Whether you are motivated by putting yourself first, attaining a business achievement, feeling healthier, having a balanced life or simply earning more money; goal setting is for you.  So make today your goal setting day and get ready for 12 months’ time when, like me, you can tick off what you hoped to achieve.   And if you want a helping hand, get in touch and we’ll help you create the perfect personal plan.