We have less than 60 days before 2019 is upon us.  Q4 is generally the best time to start preparing for the new year, and doing whatever you can to have a successful year.  There are many ways to do so, from a strategic, tactical, and budgetary standpoint. Today, I’m going to focus on a simple, 5-step process you can employ for both yourself and your team for setting and achieving goals – ensuring a more successful 2019.

Set a singular goal for the year

Make sure you have an overall goal for your organization for the year, and that it directly supports the goals for the company.   Make this goal the best balance of ambitious and achievable.  You can break down this goal into specific objectives, or move on to a new goal if you achieve it mid-year — but having a singular goal for the year, when you start, will help ensure utter clarity of focus for you and the team.

Ensure that you have the resources for your goal

Before you start the year, you have to make sure your goal is achievable.  You will want to make sure you have the right resources — people and tools — to accomplish it.  Addressing any gaps you identify should be your immediate concern.  If the gaps cannot be addressed, then you may need to revisit and revise the goal itself.  There’s no point in setting a goal that cannot be achieved.

Use a risk-based mindset 

To maximize your chances of achieving the goal, consider starting with a risk assessment.  Ask yourself and your team the following questions:  What must go right for the goal to be achieved?  For each of those things, what could go wrong?  For each of those things, what can we do to mitigate those risks?  By deliberately identifying and mitigating the risks upfront, you may significantly improve your chances of achieving the goal.

Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.

You may have already heard of the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals, but it’s worth repeating for clarity:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-bound

Any goal you set for yourself and/or your team needs to be S.M.A.R.T. and check all of these boxes – otherwise you’re simply setting yourself up for failure. It’s OK to have high-level, even pie-in-the-sky goals that you want to achieve in 2019 (“Grow the bottom line”), but S.M.A.R.T.-ifying it will help you clearly define the what, why, how, and when of that goal. That way, you’ll be better able to following the next step.

Hold yourself and your team accountable

Schedule regular checkpoints — at least quarterly and perhaps monthly — at the beginning of the year, to ensure progress tracking.  For these checkpoints, make sure you prepare ahead of each one, and that the expectation is that you will hold yourself and your team accountable for progress toward the goal.  As part of the S.M.A.R.T. process, establish KPIs and timeframes against which you can measure your goal’s progress. Wherever risks have been realized or dates have slipped, rebaseline the plan for the goal and adjust, but only as absolutely necessary.  The more you can “stay on target,” the better your chances.

With these five steps, you may very well find that you can deliver a successful year for your organization.