In addition to confetti and noisemakers, my daughters will always think of beginning the New Year with memories of flipcharts and markers!

As a coach and a Mom, I would facilitate a ‘family meeting’ around the kitchen table to look back on what we had accomplished in the past year and then set new goals for the upcoming year.   A flip chart would stand next to the dinner table with plenty of colored markers and crayons for documentation and drawing.  Noisemakers and confetti were within reach to celebrate and sparkling cider was ready to toast new beginnings…

We each would take turns to identify our top dreams; the girls might claim to ‘make the cheerleader team’ or ‘finish the 5K at school’. My goals ranged from wanting to lose that ’same 10 lbs.’ again to finishing a PhD degree.  My husband had a dream to build an airplane in the garage. The most fun discussion would focus on family goals—from redecorating teen bedrooms to ‘where would we want to go on vacation that year?’  Imagining traveling to the mountains, the beach or the Grand Canyon would always bring special excitement to the table!

Once we drew a list on the flip chart, we would brainstorm what resources were needed to put these into action—and how we could help each other.  For example, my daughter realized she needed a summer job to be able to contribute to the cost of cheerleader uniforms.  Since we would need to drive her, my husband and I requested she find a job nearby with hours flexible around our own working hours. When I needed more study time, the family planned to have father-daughter weekend activities to give me additional quiet.  Even the family pets got involved–when exercise was identified as a Future Focus Groupsstrategy to lose weight, the family volunteered Sunny, our golden retriever, to accompany me on walks!

In the workplace, this is similar to what a focus group can provide: where a small group of people are asked for their input on a particular subject to help the company make decisions and set new directions.

The simple act of taking time for future focus dialogue and then documenting those desired goals is a powerful process to bring intention to what we want in our lives and work.  By sharing the process with others in a group setting, it helps us be more accountable for attaining those goals.  Asking others to brainstorm with us can offer creative solutions where we may have a blind spot.  Sharing our goals with folks can give us affirmation, encouragement and perspective. Besides, setting goals with others is just more fun!  Putting them into action seems more plausible, too. You would never climb to the mountain top without a buddy system.

Give yourself a Focus Group to set New Year goals:

  • Invite a group of friends to brainstorm possibilities for 2017. Set aside a Saturday at a friend’s home to create vision boards or collages to imagine your dreams and describe them in color!  Cut out pictures from magazines that are ready for recycle and paste on foam boards…
  • Set aside time at work or plan an offsite meeting with co-workers to reflect on past accomplishments in 2016 and plan new goals for 2017. Review the company’s strategic plan to link to macro goals.
  • Retreat with colleagues in your professional associations to compare new business directions and establish ‘stretch goals’; share resources and act as peer coaches
  • Meet with your own manager or professional mentor to gain perspective on your career aspirations; and explore professional development resources to learn new skills
  • Ask friends and family about their New Year’s goals —show your enthusiasm and catch the excitement of change!

It’s not too late to plan that January family dinner with flip charts and markers!

(The Chinese New Year of the Rooster is on Saturday, January 28.  Buy red envelopes and fortune cookies for good wishes.) While you role-model goal-setting for your family, they will be cheerleaders for you.

Enjoy the (re) view…

 “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”  -Melody Beattie

Future Focus Groups