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In our first article of 2023, our CEO, Valerie O’Keeffe, explores how we can look at setting goals from a different perspective, ensuring that we are listening to our hearts as well as our heads.

Setting Goals on Your Terms

When January comes around, most of us feel compelled to develop a set of goals for the year ahead. I’m no different. I’ve always started each year with a list of four or five targets – and then I’ve moved on with the day-to-day, feeling pleased with myself for identifying my goals, but not always examining what’s behind them.

This year, I’ve decided to do things a little differently.

Rather than throwing myself into a flurry of goal-setting, ready to share my plans with any enquiring colleagues or peers, I feel the better approach is to settle into 2023 and use January as a time to reset the clock as well as reflect on my goals.

In fact, the settling in part is more important this year, considering what we have all endured over the past three. Some might even use the term liminality – the state of transition between one stage and the next. Whatever way you choose to describe it, this pause opens up time and space to think more strategically about what looks good for us in the next 12 to 18 months.

If we don’t take this pause, we run the risk of ploughing ahead without clarity. Yes, we’ll continue to deliver from week to week and month to month, but we might not be maximising our strengths or fulfilling our true potential. Worse still, we might be moving in a direction someone else has set for us instead of one we have chosen ourselves.

I have fallen into that trap several times in my career, believing I was progressing or making an impact when, in reality, I was only achieving on other people’s terms or helping them to reach their goals and not mine. One of my great mentors summed it up perfectly: ‘Be careful you are not a cork bobbing on someone else’s ocean.’

With all this in mind, here are some useful tips for January:

  1. Use this time to reflect on and uncover your true goals for 2023/24.
  2. Make sure they build on your key strengths, your energy and your passion for what you really enjoy.
  3. Try to include at least one goal that creates a new area of growth for you.
  4. Aim to put a shape on your goals by the end of the month.

Mapping out a plan for growth in this way – one that is based on your terms and runs at a pace that suits you – will help to bolster your motivation and give you that added drive to see it through.

Enjoy watching the year unfold, and always remember to share your support and compassion with others!