Happy New Year!

A new year is a typical time for goal setting. Maybe your professional goals sound something like: make $xx this year, achieve a title change, or find a new job that harnesses your passion in lieu of your Excel skills. Maybe you've even taken a page from Jim Collins' Built to Last and set some BHAGs.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love goal setting. I thrive off SMART goals where I can visualize, articulate, make a plan, and go! And if I commit to achieving something, I'm going to do it. With some prioritization and hard work, the rest seems to take care of itself. Maybe you're like this too, and this style works well for you. (If you want to learn more, I suggest Lululemon's process and free tools).


Or perhaps, this rigid approach doesn't sit well with you - this year or ever. Let me explain...

Last week, I was reflecting on my 2016 Vision & Ideas in my Day Designer. As I worked through the writing prompts, I realized (with a bit of dismay) that I wasn't dreaming of brand new shiny, tangible achievements in 2016. There will already be some major professional events happening to me this year [exec summary: my company will close on a major acquisition and I'm beginning my EMBA at one of the top institutions in the world]. So, is it really the right time to actively seek out a promotion or distract myself with a marathon PR? 

If I really listen to my gut, the answer (for me) is: "not this year." Instead, my reflections revealed that I'm scared of not having enough energy to deeply experience and learn from these upcoming life-changing events. My writing repeated ideas like:

  • Be present
  • Go deeper
  • Have an abundance of energy
  • Be positive, optimistic, and open to the new


As I pondered this, I realized that the right thing for me this year is to replace SMART goals with Kaizen- the Japanese business term for constant, consistent, improvement.

I will use Kaizen outside the office to boost the qualities that I want to embody in the office: presence, depth, energy, and optimism. I will do this by:

  • Doing an ab exercise exercise every day. Contrary to how it sounds, this is not about fitness. For me, my brain feels stronger and more confident when my body does too. This is a way to work from my core and feel like I am operating from strength- mentally and physically.
  • Meditating every day. It may be 30 seconds on the Tube or 20 minutes in front of my Buddha, but I will put time aside every day to empty out my mind so that it's ready to hold important information and reflections.

And that's it! They're not fancy. They won't impress anyone at a cocktail party. And I probably won't put them on my 2016 performance review. But they're incremental and doable. And if all goes according to plan, they'll have foundational effects that will carry through in and out of the office during this life-altering year.


How are you approaching 2016 goals or non-goals? I love hearing how differently people approach this topic! One friend shared that she had done some goal setting right before she had a baby in November. She still wants to achieve some things she set her sights on but is intent on being flexible with herself (you know, given that she's responsible for another human now). Another friend is living by the mantra "The best way out is through."  

I can't wait to hear the tips and strategies that work for you.


PS - Be sure to check out In Queue - we have some exciting posts coming up in January, based on your ideas and features of some incredible people.


Image is from Instagram, via Pinterest. If you know whose it is, please tell us so that we can share credit!

Posted on January 4, 2016 and filed under Personal, Spiritual Gangster.