Goal Setting

December 2016
Bo McNally

goal-settingAh, the end of the year. For me, the end of the year is a time of reflection. I like to take this time to look back over the last twelve months and think about what the previous year brought me. Happy memories come to mind like when my three and a half year old dressed up like the world’s most serious cowboy for Halloween and proudly marched in his preschool’s parade, shouting “Yee-haw, Daddy” much to the amusement of everyone present, and stressful times like these last few weeks of trying to get what feels like dozens of projects finished before the end of 2016! Every year there is plenty of growth, and many lessons learned.

And then, just like that, it’s a new year. Ever since Coach Shannon Turley implemented a goal setting system prior to my junior football season at Stanford, I have made annual goal setting a staple of my New Year routine. It has changed a bit over the years — it used to be centered around being a bigger/faster/stronger/smarter football player, and is now focused around pushing myself to be my best professionally while also living a happy and balanced life — but the idea has not changed; I take some time to review where I’ve been, consider where I want to go, and set goals that will help me to reach that destination.

I have found that goal setting is a uniquely beneficial exercise, and I would recommend it to everyone, regardless of what industry they work in or what stage they are at in life — wherever or whoever you are, goal setting is valuable. Taking the time to think about what you want to accomplish and, perhaps more importantly, how you are going to accomplish it, provides you with vision. Writing that vision down provides you with structure. You now have a plan and can attack your goals with purpose; the process of setting goals allows you be proactive instead of reactive, and sets you up for success.

While it is important to set goals, it is also important to understand that it is not always possible to reach all of them. To let you in on a little secret, most years I only successfully hit +/- 50% of my goals. I like to set high goals that are both highly possible and yet very difficult to achieve as a means of challenging and pushing myself.

As I reflect on my 2016 goals, I find myself feeling a bit frustrated, as I did not accomplish as many as I would have liked. The good news, however, is that because I went through the process of setting those goals, I still have a plan to follow — they remain achievable goals that I can continue to strive for.

As a highly competitive person, I look forward to setting aggressive goals for 2017 and coming up with a plan to achieve them. To quote my former head coach, the always-colorful Jim Harbaugh, let’s collectively approach 2017 with an “Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind!” Let’s go!