The conventional approach to goal setting and planning is to do it for the start of each year. Then the goal review and planning cycle falls into four quarters of three months each for the rest of the year. I have often thought that this cycle isn’t always a good fit for many people.

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An effective alternative to the conventional goal setting and planning cycle

An effective alternative to the conventional goal setting and planning cycle

One of my favourite goal setting and planning locations

The conventional approach to goal setting and planning is to do it for the start of each year. Then the goal review and planning cycle falls into four quarters of three months each for the rest of the year.

I have often thought that this cycle isn’t always a good fit for many people.

The end of each year is often a very hectic time for many people as they try to finish things off before the end of the year and prepare for Christmas. Often people feel exhausted and stressed out at this time of year.

Not a conducive state for effective goal setting and planning.

In addition, the depths of the cold, dark, grey days of winter isn’t the most inspiring environment for creative thinking to inspire powerful goal setting.

I think that summer is a far better time for creating visions, goal setting and planning. The nights are lighter. The days are warmer. Sun on our bones makes us feel good, more upbeat and positive.

So why do so many people conform to goal setting and planning at a time of year that isn’t the best fit for them?

I think it is because people tend to conform to what is classed as the usual way to do things and don’t question the status quo.

In recent years, I have ditched the conventional goal setting and planning cycle and designed something that works better for me and the way I like to live and work.

My current goal setting and planning cycle (and I stress ‘current cycle’, as this may change if a different cycle becomes more appropriate at some stage in the future) is this:

  • July – create/update vision of the key areas of my life (key areas include health, family life, relationships, community, work, business, finances etc), set 12 month goals based on that vision and create a detailed action plan for the first period of my twelve month cycle.

My preference is to do this process outdoors on a beautiful warm summer day – maybe at the beach, in the mountains, at a lake. Anywhere that is out in nature and the beautiful outdoors. This is the sort of environment that I love to be in. It helps my creative thinking and motivates and inspires me.

  • August – I leave this month out of the goal setting and planning cycle as this month is for taking time out.
  • Period 1 is 3.5 months – September to mid December (the last two weeks of December are down time).
  • Period 2 is a 3 month period – January to March.
  • Period 3 is a 4 month period – April to July.

At the end of each period I review progress, tweak/adjust goals as necessary and create/refresh my action plan for the next period.

My unconventional goal setting and planning cycle works a lot better for me, my family life and the way I prefer my work and business to operate than the conventional start of year and four equal quarters cycle.

I encourage you to challenge yourself on your goal setting and planning cycle and why you do it on the schedule that you do.

  • Is there a better cycle for your goal setting and planning?
  • If you were to create a goal setting and planning cycle that would be a better fit for you, your life, work, business, relationships, family life etc, what would it be?

If you decide that the conventional goal setting and planning cycle for the start of each year broken down into the four quarters of the year works really well for you, then that’s great. Carry on.

But if your current approach is because that is the way everyone does it, or you have always done it that way, or you have never considered the possibility that other options might work better for you then maybe it is time to explore if something new might serve you better.

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  • Gladys

    Hello Ms.Davies

    Another way to plan out goals.
    I have written out goals the conventional way, but this is really thinking outside the box.

    I love the idea of taking the month of August off.

    Do you ever use mind maps in your goal setting?

    Thank you
    Gladys

  • Ali Davies

    Hi Gladys,
    I sometimes use very simple mind maps. But I find really big detailed ones aren’t my preferred way of organising my thoughts. I tend to prefer a process flow type chart broken into categories. It feels more organised and clearer for me. With all of these tools I think it is good to remember that different things work for different folks so experimenting and adapting as appropriate is always a good approach.