I don’t know about you, but it’s been a surreal holiday season and now it’s one of those strangely numbered years. 2020. I remember going to a 2020 party in 2005. We couldn’t imagine what the world would look like now.

And that’s the thing; over the short term, nothing changes. Over the long term, everything changes. Which is why one year is such a bad choice of time frame. It’s neither long, nor short term. Which brings me back to new years’ resolutions. Why do we do this to ourselves? Whether it’s a resolution per-se, or just a list of THINGS I MUST DO THIS YEAR, you’re unlikely to achieve them. Which leaves you feeling miserable, rather than that nice warm ‘I did it!’ feeling that we all prefer.

Instead of a year, I like a different approach – the 5-4-3-2-1 plan. Five years, 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days and 1 hour. If you have clear goals for of these time-frames, you are much more likely to achieve them. And since you get to write ‘1 hour’ goals, you can have some quick wins straight away. Nice.

I recently wrote down my goals using this format. What was really interesting was to see that there were gaps. There weren’t four month or three week goals to support my five year goals. And, of course, a goal without a plan is just scribble on paper. So I had to rethink my goals somewhat. What goals could I set for the interim time spans that would help move me towards my five year goals?

The advantage here, too, is that since they are closer time spans, you have a pretty good idea of what you can and can’t get done, which of course increases the likelihood that your goals are achievable. Stretch targets, maybe, but not completely ‘off with the fairies’. Ever had a sales goal that’s completely unattainable? Did you feel completely put off from even starting?

And don’t forget, you can have goals or aspirations in your personal life too. So why not have a 5-4-3-2-1 for your professional life and your personal life too? I realised that I didn’t have any five year goals for my personal life at all. And I still haven’t decided what I think about that.

Am I a workaholic? Or am I just happy with my life? Hmmm. Not sure. Possibly a bit of both. But it does suggest that I’m somewhat over-focused on my professional life. And, as we all know, you never know what life has in store for you, so putting all my eggs in the one professional basket is a little unwise. So that’s my homework for the coming weeks.

So there you have it. Ditch the new years’ resolutions and one year goals. And instead, use 5-4-3-2-1 to set a different, more achievable agenda. Now bring on 2020.