10 Tips for Starting the Fiscal Year With New Goals

With the start of a new fiscal year here, why not use it as your opportunity to make a fresh start of your own with a new set of goals, be they career or personal focused? Here are 10 tips on setting goals to get you started.

  1. Write it down: Before you start setting your goals, have a written brainstorming session. Write (or type) anything that comes to mind that you desire to do in the coming fiscal year (maybe it’s save more for retirement, retire, get a promotion, or do a better job managing your email). When you’ve finished writing, look back through your list and determine which you’d most like to accomplish in the next year. Circle or highlight those and save the list somewhere so that you can revisit it during future goal setting sessions.
  2. Sort your ideas: With your list narrowed, sort your ideas into various categories. Which can you accomplish in less than three months? Which will take six months to complete? How many will take the full year? Which goals are work-based and which pertain to your personal life? Also note which you can do alone and which will require assistance.
  3. Determine how realistic each goal might be: Time for a reality check. Look at each of your goals and consider the feasibility. That doesn’t mean only working on things that are easy, but if your goal is to become a manager within your agency but you’re new to the job and many of those in management positions were recently promoted into those jobs, it’s unlikely that will happen within a year. If you find goals like this, keep them on a separate long-range planning list, and choose a goal that can more easily be attained in a year (like getting a promotion in general).
  4. Choose which goals to focus on: Depending on how many you came away from your brainstorming session with, choose no more than three for your work category and three for your personal category. Consider choosing one short term, one mid-term, and one long-term goal from each. If you have goals that will take more than a year, put them on your long-range planning list. Again, circle or highlight those you have chosen to work toward this year, but retain the rest for later.
  5. Make an action plan: With your goals at hand, develop a written action plan for each. Decide whom you might need assistance from, what tools you’ll need to reach your goal, whether there is paperwork to fill out or a program to sign up for. As you’re doing this, also decide how you will deal with/overcome failure. As you work through the fiscal year toward your goals don’t allow perfect to become the enemy of the good. Accept that life can get in the way.
  6. Set performance targets: As you develop your action plan, add specific deadlines by which you’d like to be at a certain point toward accomplishing your goal and your date to reach your goal. Add a calendar alert to check-in on those dates and see how your goals are progressing. This will help you know whether you’re on track or whether you need to reassess and take a different route toward achieving your goal.
  7. Develop stretch goals: If you accomplish all of your work and personal goals before year end, what else would you like to do? This could be new goals from your list, or you might choose to stretch one of your current goals (for example, if saving $25 additional dollars per week is getting easy, try to increase it to $30 or $35).
  8. Build up your support team: If your goals are reliant on others, now’s a perfect time to setup a meeting or reach out to find out how you can work with this person to achieve your goals. It’s also a great time to tell others about some of your goals so they can help keep you accountable.
  9. Determine your measures of success: What does success with each of your goals mean? Is it simply meeting the goal? Going above and beyond? Being happy that you worked toward something but still fell short?
  10. Reward yourself: Reaching your goals isn’t always easy, and it will often require some sacrifice on your part. It’s important to reward yourself once you reach your goal or as you meet your specific performance benchmarks to keep yourself motivated.

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