Setting Personal Objectives
For The New Year
By Roy Thomsitt
The end of one year and the start of another brings with it the
opportunity and inspiration, for many, to consider their personal situation and
plan for the year ahead. We all hope that we will end the New Year better off in
our personal lives than we start it. By “better off” we may mean financially, in
terms of happiness and relationships, in our careers and lifestyles; in fact, in
any aspect of our lives.
If we start the year with a positive intent on improving our lives in
some way, then there is a good chance we can succeed in so doing. One of the
ways we can help ourselves succeed is by setting personal objectives for the
year ahead. It has long been a tradition to make New Year’s resolutions, and
they are an example of objective setting, usually based on a correcting a
personal weakness, such as smoking or being overweight. However, New Year’s
resolutions are quite often just a bit of fun, and not taken that seriously.
Planning ahead for the full year based on a set of objectives can be a much more
beneficial way to improve yourself over the span of a year.
New Year’s resolutions, however, do give a hint at one way to go about
setting personal objectives for the year: they tend to be about addressing
weakness. If you have a personal weakness at the beginning of the year, and have
strengthened it by the end of the year, then you will have made progress. So,
when you sit down and consider what personal objectives to set yourself,
focusing on your weaknesses may be a good place to start.
How To Go About Setting Your Personal Objectives
more than one way to set about formulating personal objectives, but I will
concentrate on focusing on personal weakness. By “focusing” I do not mean just
thinking about those weakness all the time in a negative, self critical way. The
purpose is to improve yourself by the end of the year, so those weaknesses, or
even just one weakness, need to be addressed in a positive way. Ultimately, you
want the weakness you focus on to be no longer a weakness by the end of the
year. Here are a few simple steps to follow:
1. Your first step is to identify an area, or areas, of your life where
you want to make significant improvements. As an example, let us say you have
your own business, which is quite new, and you are still finding your feet.
2. Once you have decided on what area of your life to concentrate on
first, you should then think about it in a detached and realistic way, pen in
hand, with a blank piece of paper in front of you. Go over in your mind your
experiences since you started the business, and pinpoint what weaknesses have
been exposed since you started the business. Jot them down in a relaxed way,
there is no hurry. When you are confident you have highlighted the most critical
weakness, and have missed none, move on to considering your list.
3. You should now go over your list of business related weaknesses, and
prioritize them. If something really stands out as being critical, then that
will be your starting point. At this stage, bear in mind that setting objectives
is not about aiming for the impossible; that is self destructive. If you have a
long list of weaknesses and it looks daunting, then the prioritization is
For this example, let us assume that your most
critical weakness in your new business is finance and accounting. For many
people who start a business, that is a reality, so that is quite a realistic
example. Do not expect that you will remove all weaknesses by 100% in one year;
you should be realistic, and take a staged approach. Each year you will build on
your strengths, and steadily eliminate your weaknesses. However, you cannot
expect to do it all at once.
4. Now think more about the finance side of the business, and with a new
sheet of paper write down all the things that trouble you. Is it everything
about finance and accounting? That would not be unusual either. You may not even
be able to tell a debit from a credit, but that is not surprising. To a normal
person, double entry bookkeeping is back to front.
5. Assuming everything about finance and accounting is a mystery to you,
set out a plan to remedy that situation. Any wise businessman needs to
understand his business finances; he will be vulnerable if he does not. There
are several ways to approach this weakness, but you will want to improve your
accounting knowledge over the year. So, as an example, you could set yourself
the following objectives for the year:
a. Learn some basic bookkeeping. You can achieve this through a book on
accounting for small businessmen, or evening classes. If you have a local small
business help bureau of any sort, they may be able to point you in the right
direction; they may even have regular seminars.
b. Get to know your own accounting system, or maybe introduce a simple
accounting software program that will not only help you keep accurate accounts,
but teach you along the way.
c. Get to understand profit and loss accounts so that you can start to
understand how and why your business is making a profit or a loss.
d. Learn to do cash flow forecasts, which will always be critical to
By the end of the year, you should have a better understanding of your
business finances, and when you go over the same exercise again the following
year, you can plan to go up to a higher if you think it necessary, or address
those weaknesses you have not yet mastered.
The finance and accounting example is just one. It could also be
marketing or time management or any other aspect of the business. The important
thing for you to do is to assess the most critical weaknesses and address them
through your personal objectives. That process can be applied to any part of
your life you choose, whether related to career, family, personal health or bad