But with the festive period almost upon us, the temptation to postpone thinking about next year can be difficult to resist.
According to Terry Reynolds, regional managing director at RogenSi, the key to setting and sticking to goals is ensuring that they inspire your workforce to fuel ongoing commitment.
Having goals gives workers a purpose, leading to results being achieved more quickly by following a plan of action.
It also helps employees to clarify what is wanted and expected of them, and then to focus on directing appropriate effort towards achieving those outcomes.
By setting ‘inspiring’ goals, employers also help to encourage the growth of their workers’ comfort zone and improve their performance in the right areas.
Reynolds told HC that having goals in place before the New Year is “vital”.
“I think that people should be considering what they want to achieve next year from the month of December,” he said. “So when the New Year kicks in, they have a plan in place – as opposed to leaving it and starting 2015 unsure about what it is they want to do. Before they know it they’re already half way through the month and falling behind, so it’s very important that we at least start to write down our goals now.”
He added that the biggest struggle or demoraliser is likely to be a desire for instantaneous results.
“The problem people generally have is that they aren’t seeing an immediate change,” he told HC. “But with most goals, there is rarely an immediate return. People need to ensure that they can stay motivated for at least two to three weeks – then they might begin to notice a change, which will reignite their motivation by showing them that they’re on the right track.”
In 1953, Harvard University conducted a survey of the students who were graduating that year. The survey asked participants whether they had their goals written down – and only 3% of the students answered ‘yes’.
Twenty years later, the university contacted all of the students who had been involved. According to the research, the 3% who had written their goals down in 1953 were worth more financially than the remaining 97% combined.
“If you know exactly what you want, you obviously have a higher probability of getting it,” Reynolds added. “But there needs to be a process of getting them down and outlining them. Make sure that goals are tight – have a time association with the achievement of them, detailing how much time you intend to dedicate to each objective. Making the first step very simple makes finding motivation easier.”
5 top tips for successful goal setting
1. Think rationally and emotionally
Think logically to create goals that are specific and can realistically be achieved – but remember to make them exciting, so that staff can connect to them and be motivated by them.
2. Use aspirational language
When describing what you hope to achieve, make it about moving towards success rather than moving away from failure. For example, “We want to be the most desirable place to work in our sector,” is more inspiring than “We need to reduce turnover.”
3. Visualise success
Envisioning a successful outcome and believing that it is achievable is a technique popular amongst high performing athletes.
4. Be clear on the first step
If the first step towards achieving a goal is clear and obtainable, it will make moving forwards easier – the greater objective will seem more achievable.
5. Celebrate success
Celebrate each milestone on the journey towards your overall goal. This is a technique used by high performing individuals and teams to sustain momentum.
With the New Year looming, many organisations will be thinking about their objectives for 2015.