The No-Nonsense Guide to Setting New Goals

woman runningWhen you’re doing a year-end roundup of all you’ve accomplished, sometimes it feels like you’re not getting as far as you imagined you would when you first set your goals.

This is the perfect time for a goal refresh—and not just for your New Year’s Resolutions, either. Use this continual improvement model and you’ll always find new ways to grow.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “kaizen,” or the continual improvement programming that originated in Japan and has caught fire with many organizations and individuals across the globe. You can put this practical approach to work for your own goal-setting.

Kaizen’s tenets include:

  • Self-reflection – know your core purpose upon which your goals are based
  • Process improvement – identify, reduce or eliminate processes that are sub-optimal
  • Evolution – make many small incremental changes to produce ever-evolving results

You can use the model to help you set new goals in the new year and beyond:
  1. Envision your ideal outcome with no limits. Don’t worry about how far off it is or how much work it will take to get there. First, set the bar as high as you’d like.
  2. Turn your vision into a set of goals you can express and plan around. For instance, if you envision having a body like a certain movie star, or skills like a particular pro athlete, you might transform your vision into actionable goals like getting down to a certain percentage of body fat or increasing your speed or accuracy by a certain percentage.
  3. Place a distinct value on every goal. Why is it important to you to have a smaller waistline? Do you really want to do what it takes to shave time off your mile? The value of your goals should be personal, and important to you, even if it means something as simple as being able to go on a run with your son or to feel your very best when you go on your honeymoon.
  4. Choose your most important goal. Now that you have identified the value of each of your goals, and named them as part of your overall vision, you need to select just one to begin working on. It can be the goal you feel will make the biggest difference in your purpose, or it might be the most manageable to get you started. Continual improvement means you don’t have a deadline for accomplishing your vision. Instead, you are always working on something to move you toward the ideal.
  5. Turn your most important goal into action steps. To achieve a certain body composition, you will need to visit the gym X amount of times per week. To lower your blood pressure or improve your heart health, you will need to optimize your diet or work out for X minutes per week in a certain heart rate zone. Actionable steps are what you will do, not what you are trying to achieve.

What seems to work best in this approach is that it is not an all-or-nothing process. Once you’ve achieved the goal at the top of your list, you can continue on, revisiting your goals or adding to your action steps, to keep yourself moving closer to your vision.

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