Have you made your September 1st resolutions?

Cartoon clipWhile visiting the United States at the beginning of May, I was invited to attend a meeting of Women Entrepreneurs. To my surprise, each participant attending the meeting was asked to share one or more summer goals as well as the strategies they would use to achieve them. “Summer goals?” I thought to myself. Don’t people usually make resolutions for the year in January?

But then how many of us are able to keep our New Year’s resolutions anyway? Maybe one reason why we find it so difficult is because we’ve chosen the wrong time of year. 4000 years ago, the Mesopotamians celebrated New Year in March, following the spring equinox. Egyptians, on the other hand, chose September to kick off the New Year, something that for us has become a back-to-school tradition.

The concept of making resolutions is itself a paradox: If we had the discipline to keep see our resolutions through we wouldn’t need to make them in the first place. Moreover, making resolutions that most of us expect to break anyway is clearly irrational.

However, setting goals is quite different from making resolutions. It involves making a plan and following a prescribed timeframe. The beauty of setting a summer goal is that it can last as long as the next equinox and then be easily measured and evaluated. Or why not set new goals in the fall, when most of us come back to work refreshed and relaxed after a well-deserved holiday?

This fall, I suggest focusing on one area of improvement over the next three months and breaking your larger objective into smaller, more manageable sections. Each week, choose a smaller chunk of your overall goal and see it through the entire week. Then, at the beginning of each subsequent week, evaluate your success.

Because setting goals involves reviewing and revising, you may find that your objectives change quite often. Some aspects of your overall goal may become more or less important, while others may disappear as new ones emerge. Finally, make sure to send updates the people that these changes may affect.

Setting concrete and realistic goals will sharpen the clarity of your purpose. However, the realization of any goal takes sound planning as well as a whole lot of discipline.

What are your goals this fall?