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It’s a blast seeking out people to be Brainzooming guest authors because it leads to finding so many creative people working on fascinating projects. This week is no exception.

As with most of the guest bloggers, I first met Alex Wolf on Twitter. I soon found my way to her website where she describes herself as a blogger, photographer, traveller, software trainer, booklover and “positivity central.” Beyond that, she details how she’s 1 girl taking on 101 goals in 1001 days. Her 101 goals adventure began on January 1, 2009 and will end September 29, 2011. So far, it’s taken her all over the world, led to two tattoos, working at a film festival, made her a vegetarian, introduced her to many new friends and made her a very Can Do kind of girl. 2010 is going to be the busiest year in her 101 goals plan and includes climbing a mountain (April), white water rafting (May) and starting to work towards a parachuting qualification (July or August), among other things.

Given how innovative Alex’s undertaking is, I asked her to share her perspectives on goal setting strategy with all of you:

If you started a New Year’s Resolution (NYR for short) this year, you’ve probably abandoned it already. Most of them don’t survive the third week of January. But hey, don’t feel down. It’s a good thing when one fails. It gives you a chance to go back to the basics and make proper goals.

According to most studies, including this recent one in The Guardian, NYRs are doomed to failure because of the way they’re made. In short, they’re all about end destination and rarely focus on how to actually get there. Lose weight, get promoted, fall in love. They’re dreams. They’re wishes. But that’s all they usually are, and that’s why they usually fail.

Here are some key differences between NYRs and good goals:

  • An NYR is impersonal, cookie cutter dreaming. A good goal is personal and something you can get enthusiastic about.
  • An NYR is a one-line throw away. A good goal is defined, specific and holds you accountable.
  • AN NYR has no end date or target. A good goal has a time frame/conclusion built in.

Let me give you a practical example:

NYR: “Get fit”

Analysis: Hard to analyze something so ill-defined! It’s completely generic, has no connection to the person making it, and has no time frame. There’s also no accountability to it – you can hardly ask someone if they ‘got fit’ over the weekend in the same way you can ask them if they went to the gym three times last week.

Good goal: “Complete enough training between January and the end of March to compete in my local half marathon in April”

Analysis: It’s specific and personal to the goal maker. They’ve set a timeframe and criteria for how they’ll know the goal is complete. It’s flexible enough to fit in with their real life. It’s also accountable – people will know if they don’t do the training and can’t compete.

This is all very obvious stuff, of course, but it can be hard to focus on the basics of good goal setting during resolution silly season. Now that the 2010 NYR silly season is over though, and no one’s watching, how about quietly turning some of your dreams into real, solid goals?

It’s easy and you can do it in three steps.

1. Set Goals, Not Dreams

Go right back to the goal setting basics, make your goals SMART. Make sure the goals you end up with are goals you can get excited about.

2. Make Realistic And Ongoing Commitments

Commit to working on your goals when you can; try and define when those times are. Carry a list of goals with you and read it occasionally. Stay focused on why you want to achieve these things and what you need to do next to move forward.

3. Start Moving

Get started then keep going. It’s that simple. A pragmatic goal being worked on when you can is so much better than your voice singing in the annual NYR failure chorus. And you deserve better! Alex Wolf

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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  1. Tweets that mention Now That You’ve Abandoned Your New Year’s Resolution, How About a Proper Goal? – Guest Post by Alex Wolf | Brainzooming -- Topsy.com - January 29, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Brown and Mike Brown, EO Boston. EO Boston said: RT @Brainzooming: How's progress on your New Year's Resolutions? Thought so. Now set good goals! http://bit.ly/bE7Xyd from @101ofawolf […]

  2. Trust - Guest Post by Carol Kobza - February 4, 2010

    […] contrast to last week’s UK-based post from Andy Wolf, this week’s guest author is a veritable neighbor of mine. Carol Kobza is a creative force […]