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Let’s get this party started: Five tips for setting great goals in 2016

By Matt Poepsel, PhD

You’ll have to forgive me if I have an extra spring in my step today, but it’s my favorite time of year. Each January 1st is an electric time for a self-confessed goals junkie like myself. Like most of you, I took the recent holiday break to reconnect with family and friends. After that, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on a shiny new list of personal and professional goals for 2016.

One of my goals was fitness related, so I got up early this morning, laced up my trainers, realized I’m not British, put on my sneakers, and headed to my mega-gym of choice. The moment I pulled into the parking lot, I could tell I wasn’t the only one who was ready for a New Year. The place was jammed full of folks ready to get started down a healthier path.

While I waited for my turn on a particularly popular piece of workout equipment, I overheard a pair of fellow do-gooders:

“Did you make it in last week?”
“Nah. I figured that I’d just take it easy, feast my butt off, and start right this week.”
“Yeah. The party’s over.”

Okay, I call B.S. on that one.

When it comes to 2016 and everything that you’re able to accomplish this year, the party isn’t over. It’s just getting started! A little rest and relaxation is great, but the real party people are the ones who take pleasure from getting it done all year long.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that not working hard = fun, and working hard = no fun. Sure, the two are different, but they can both be fun when you have the right mindset and a plan to succeed.

That’s where your goals come in. (Cue the Rocky theme song) If you want to give yourself every advantage in 2016, try applying these tips to your goal setting.

1. Seek Balance. Try not to overload yourself in a single area of life like work or fitness. Goal muscles are like real muscles, so you’re looking for a total body workout. Remember that the progress and success you experience in one area will spill over to the other parts of your life.

2. Keep Count. Avoid setting too many or too few goals for yourself. One year, I set 53 goals for myself. While I achieved almost all of them, managing that system took a lot of effort. This year, while I’m helping our team build the future of The Predictive Index, I needed to set fewer, more focused goals. I’ve limited myself to 8 awesome goals – the right number for me right now.

3. Ask Yourself Why. It’s super important to uncover your motivations for achieving a given goal. Commit yourself to making time to dig deep and to write out the why’s behind each stated goal. Phrases like “I want to feel proud of the way I look” tap into your honest motivations. You’ll likely need those reminders when things get tougher as you go.

4. Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself. There’s no denying that we live in an increasingly connected world. Fortunately, this means that we have more tools than ever to help us capture our goals and stay on track. I personally use a combination of Google Docs and Todoist as my go to planning and tracking tools as they’re available in real time on every device I own. There are literally dozens of tech tools available so choose the ones that work best for you. Also, be open to trying new tools if you think they’ll work better for you.

5. Do it Daily. Don’t make the mistake of looking at goal setting as a one-time event. Keep those goals at your fingertips as a reminder of what you want to accomplish this year. Life can get hectic, and we can naturally be blown off course. Capture your potential and what’s possible in your goals, and use these as your anchor. Review your goals every day, and check your progress and near-term plans every week.

Those are just a few timely tips to help you get your 2016 goals off to a good start. There are an endless number of goal setting techniques, so if you feel yourself getting stuck, don’t sweat it. Getting started with even a single, simple goal can make all the difference.

If you want an extra boost of accountability, I invite you to share your goals with me at mpoepsel@predictiveindex.com. If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine!

Here’s to a fantastic and productive 2016! Let’s make it our best year yet.


Matt Poepsel, PhD, is the VP of Professional Services at PI, the "Godfather of Talent Optimization," and the author of "Expand the Circle: Enlightened Leadership for Our New World of Work." For every N. E. Patriots game, he prepares food and drinks that originate from the opponent's region.

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