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Set Goals for This Year With These 3 Questions

Set Goals for This Year With These 3 Questions

It's easy to let go of the past and move on with the present. Surely, you're already thinking about how much bigger and better this year is going to be. But, before too much time passes, there is one activity every entrepreneur must do at the start of the new year: look back to look forward.

Einstein said it's "all relative," and, this goes for your business as well. You see, you're only as far as you "think" you are. Often, it's difficult to recognize the progress that has been made when there's still so much left to do. Now let's bring another great mind into the discussion.

It was Shakespeare who said, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." If you want next year to look any different and achieve even bigger goals, pause long enough to answer these two questions: Where did things go well? What could I have done better?

These questions push you towards creative cognitive dissonance, meaning you're going to have to fill in the "blank lines" with projects you remember completing, events you remember attending and vendors and clients you remember meeting. By identifying what you did in the past, you set the stage for more objective goal setting as you look to the future. That is, once you know where you were, where you're going should be easier to see.

Related: 3 Secrets to Develop Habits That Matter

Have you done any annual goal setting? The way we do this with founders we coach is to print out 12 pieces of paper for the months of the upcoming year, and we start identifying goals, milestones and check-in points. My intention is always to come up with one significant goal for each quarter -- one defined outcome that has a beginning, middle and end to achieve every three months. If you're ready to start this kind of planning, think about where you'd like to be a year from today.

One significant activity is to identity what comes to mind when you think of the word more. Be specific. And then, answer a third important question: "What are five to 10 things I want to make more of next year?"

Once you get past the obvious answers (such as money, customers, SKUs, etc.), you're going to get to other things that are as -- or even more -- important. Recently, I worked with a CEO who said she wanted to make more memories, great photographs, time for reading and water-skiing trips to the lake. Each one of her "mores" had a quantitative result. Do the things you want more of have some specific end point?

When it's time to make your best a little bit better, don't underestimate the power of a well-placed question. Start by recognizing where you are now, and direct your focus on exactly what it is you want to be true. In the comment section below, let us know what you want more of next year.

Related: A Structured Day Can Keep Wasted Time at Bay

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Jason W. Womack is founder of The Womack Company, a productivity-training firm based in Ojai, Calif. He is author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley, 2012).

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