Setting Goals: Making the Most of 2023

As each year ends and a new one begins, I have a few rituals. I watch the ball drop with my loved ones. I celebrate with a family gathering on New Year’s Day. And, I take some time to reflect on the previous year, think about what I want to accomplish in the new one, and I take time for setting goals. 

Reflection time is key to keep moving forward in life. As they say, “same old thinking, same old results.” Without reflection, we never see if we’re on the right path or straying off in another direction. 

Reflection gives us that pause to re-group, re-assess, and recharge, armed with information from the recent past. Organizations can perform a similar year-end inventory, reflecting on successes, challenges, and progress toward organization-wide goals. Involving your staff at the department level in a discussion about the past year’s progress is a great strategy for putting closure on the year and preparing your team for new and continuing goals. This discussion not only engages staff in setting new goals but also provides a great opportunity to celebrate successes that may have dropped off the radar for several months.

At the organization-wide level, publishing a summary of the reflections for all employees (or, better yet, involving them in the year-end assessment) will ensure that all your internal stakeholders start the new year out on the same page.

What Is the Goal?

In assessing end-of-year achievements, it’s important to reacquaint yourself with the original goal. Take a step back and remind yourself what your goals were at the beginning of the year. Do those goals look the same at the end of the year or did the overall goal shift? What progress did you make toward that goal? If you didn’t make good progress, what were the barriers you encountered?

Many organizations set goals on a multi-year basis; however, it’s still important to re-assess them periodically throughout the year, particularly at the year’s end. Over the year, your objectives may have changed due to external circumstances, internal changes, or any combination of environmental factors. The important thing is that you evaluate whether or not you have a solid set of worthy objectives guiding your daily work.

When you’re doing your year-end assessment of your progress toward your goals or helping your staff create meaningful goals for hte new year, think through some important questions.

  • Are your department goals still in line with the organizational strategy and values?
  • Are they S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-worthy?)
  • Can employees get behind and believe in the goals? Have you helped them see how the goals fit their values and organizational strategy?
  • What roadblocks have prevented your staff from reaching their goals?
  • Have you been working toward your goals all year, or were they trotted out last January never to see the light of day again until now?

How Do You Know If You’ve Reached Your Goal?

A commonly accepted practice in goal setting says that goals must be measurable; otherwise, how will you know if you’ve reached your goal? However, if you only review your objectives on an annual basis, you have ample opportunity over 365 days to derail. Any goals for your organization, department, team, or yourself can be broken into short-term goals that can be used for benchmarking progress. As you’re assessing your year-end progress, note those benchmarks. Some goals for the year may not have been reached, but some progress is better than not moving at all. Some organizational goals may be more “open-ended” goals, not tasks to be checked off, but more to be checked up on.

What Do You Do If You Haven’t Reached A Goal?

There is a multitude of reasons why you, your organization, or your team may not have reached one of your annual goals. This is the perfect time to step back, re-examine your purpose, and rewrite the goal for the next year. Is it something you still believe in and value? Is it a priority? If so, determine what obstacles kept you from accomplishing it. Not enough time? Too few resources? Not enough personal commitment to making it happen? If you don’t reach a goal, it is important to re-assess its relevance. You may determine that it is no longer a priority and that is fine. Where we often struggle is when we feel that a goal is still a priority, but we didn’t make it happen. Remember, this reflection time is about moving yourself, your department, and your organization to new heights in the new year. Be honest without being self-deprecating.

if your goals include organizational change, contact Baird for more information about our consulting services to help you improve your patient experience, employee engagement levels, and more. 

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