"Achievable goals are the first step to self improvement." - J.K. Rowling
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use." - Charles Schulz
A blog post I read recently--forgive me, I can't recall which one--commented sagely enough that it's silly to rely upon a particular date (specifically, January 1st of each year) to spur ourselves into self-improvement activities such as goal-setting, resolution-declaring, beer-drinking, etc.
Okay, I made that last bit up. But there is an awful lot of beer-drinking that goes on around that time of year, isn't there? It's followed, appropriately enough, by even more resolution-declaring regarding a reduction in beer-drinking. Which is soon enough followed by more beer-drinking, of course, which is in turn followed by vocal promises to an unnamed deity to "never drink again."
So anyway, I kind of agree that a properly-functioning goal-oriented person doesn't need artificial spurs like New Year's Day to create goals. We really ought to be constantly evaluating our paths and crafting new markers on a regular basis.
Doesn't happen, though, does it?
Even if it does, even if you're a goal-setting maven from way back, you still need to pick a day and time at some point in the year to sit down and craft/evaluate your annual goals. Why annual goals? Well, they're probably the easiest to create and track, because weekly and monthly goals, if they're kept achievable, are often not grand enough to get us excited (though please don't assume I'm downplaying their importance!), while multi-year goals are usually so far out that we don't see much movement toward them. But I can see next year, all in one happy calendar, and in looking at next year I can plan for some pretty splendiferous achievements. The plans for those achievements will require weekly and monthly goals, to be certain. And the annual goals I set should, in turn, play into what I'm hoping to accomplish in the next 3-5 years. But it helps to start looking at one thing at a time, and annual goals are my favorite spot to start from.
So, what day and time makes sense to sit down and look at your annual goals? Doesn't technically matter. At work, for example, I set some goals based on July to June calculations, because that's what my accreditation agency is tracking. If you, too, are burdened with external agency "fiscal year" considerations, then go with those. But most of us aren't, at least not for our personal and business goals. So--wanna set goals on February 14th? Nah, didn't think so; there's too much chocolate to be eaten and wine to be drunk on that day, right? A random day, perhaps, like April 28th or August 20th? Nah, too random. So why not use the calendar year since so many of us use normal calendars on a regular basis?
So, that's why I'm suggesting we go with goal-setting activities at the end of December for a Jan 1 - Dec 31 period. It's not because I think New Year's Resolutions have any particular merit, but rather because it's just a fairly obvious choice given the basic calendar structure.
Soon to come: Looking to 2013.