This week marks the end of 2015 and brings in a new year: 2016. This week is a perfect time to reflect back upon the past year and also set goals for the upcoming year. It starts with a commitment to be honest…honest to yourself. W. Edwards Deming, the famous management guru who revitalized Japanese industry after World War II said “Failure to understand people is the devastation of western management”. It starts with understanding yourself, and understanding yourself starts with an honest examination of yourself. A survey by “US News & World Report” magazine a few years ago asked 1,000 Americans who they thought would get into heaven. Seventy-nine per cent responded they believed Mother Teresa would get into heaven. The same respondents gave themselves an 87% chance of getting into heaven, a better chance than Mother Teresa. Thus in looking back at the past year and evaluating your performance keep in mind the Mother Teresa example. Rate yourself as accurately and fairly as possible.

In terms of setting goals try to keep them personal as opposed to company goals. Start with your strengths and try to improve them. Don’t take them as a given. To retain strengths requires effort. To improve strengths requires more effort. I remember a good CEO who said “You can get better or you can get worse but you can’t stay the same”. Don’t ignore your strengths when setting your yearly goals.

Set a plan for improving your weaknesses. Your goal should stretch you but should be attainable. Setting a goal too high can lead to disappointment and walking away from your goal. This is where honesty plays a vital role. For example, we have all read that speaking in public is the average person’s biggest fear. If that is the case with you don’t set a goal that you’re going to speak at a major meeting with a thousand in attendance. Set step goals such as: speaking at an internal meeting, or department meeting. Once you begin to speak and have successes you can set higher goals such as speaking at that 1000 person meeting.

Establish check points for assessing your progress in meeting your goals, whether the check points are weekly, monthly or quarterly is up to you. You know best what will work for you. The important thing is to set up a schedule and follow it.

Finally, put your goals in writing and put your scheduled assessments in writing. The process will help you stay committed and enhance your chances for a successful year. It’s normal to start a new year with optimism. The key is to keep that optimism alive for 365 days. The reality of gauging your progress in a concrete format will assist you in achieving your goals.

Have a very successful 2016!!