How to Set Goals for 2024

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 12/19/2023
How to Set Goals for 2024

The start of a new year is synonymous with goal setting.

We spend the year-end reflecting on what we accomplished, what didn’t work out, and how we want the new year to be different, and then we set goals accordingly.

“I ask myself, have I grown professionally and as a person? Did I discover or learn something new that I enjoy? Am I in the right role? Am I taken seriously?” said Scott Corvey, FPAC, Vice President of Finance, Consero Global. “I then look back to see what I could have done differently, more of or less of. For me, I connect the dots and look at my behavioral patterns and choices. I’ll likely fail overall, but even if I improve on 25%, I see a better version of myself.”

Even if you don’t achieve your goals, setting them helps you to be more productive and improves satisfaction and perspective. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, it will be very difficult to improve.

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The Goal-Setting Process

“My goal-setting process starts with things I want to accomplish or improve in the year ahead, and how important I think they are for me to achieve,” said Ken Fick, FP&A/CFO Advisor. “When I make a commitment to a goal, I try to follow the SMART goals framework, and then break them down into smaller steps. Having smaller goals that lead to a bigger goal makes it less daunting for me.”

The SMART process sets goals according to five key elements: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  1. Specific: Identify the desired outcome and the actions needed to get there. 
  2. Measurable: Designate what data will be used to measure the goal and the method you will use to collect it. “I also identify what success means for each goal so we [he and his boss] can measure it and decide if the goal was met,” said Mario Vasquez, FPAC, Senior Director of Finance, The E.W. Scripps Company. “If a goal is too broad of a topic or idea, then it will be hard to determine if it was met or not.”
  3. Achievable: Be realistic; if you have a lofty goal, break it down into smaller pieces.

    My goal-setting process has changed over the years from tactical short-term goals to long-term goals supported by purposeful short-term goals. This year, I have written down the goals asking the following questions: Is this a one-year, three-year, or a ‘light on the hill’ goal?” said an FP&A Advisory Council Member.
  4. Relevant: Define the key benefit of your goal for the company. Is it aligned with the mission? 

    “I start by ensuring that my organizational goals align with our broader functional and enterprise-wide objectives for the year. Then I move beyond the what we are working on to also ensuring that how we do things adheres to our values as a firm and function,” said an FP&A Advisory Council Member.

    I start with understanding my company's goals and objectives,” said Vasquez. “Next, I determine what areas I can work on that can have the most significant impact. After identifying the goals I want to set for the year, I review them with my boss to make sure she agrees with them. She usually has one or two additional goals to add to my list.”
  5. Time-bound: Deadlines are necessary. You need a set date at which you evaluate the success or failure of your efforts. It doesn’t mean everything has to be complete, and in that case, you reset the goal. 

One Finance Manager’s Finely Tuned Process

Frank Chou, FPAC, CTP, Finance Manager for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company shared his personal, 10-step goal-setting process that he “built up over the years.”

  1. He starts with reflection and brainstorming. In this step, you reflect on your priorities and aspirations, consider your short-term and long-term objectives, and identify areas for improvement. 
  2. Define clear objectives. “I clearly lay out what I want to achieve that’s specific and measurable,” said Chou. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable objectives, and ensure your goals are realistic and attainable within a given timeframe. 
  3. Prioritize — Rank your goals in order of importance. Consider the impact of each, and focus on a manageable number. 

    Psychologists use the term “goal competition” to describe your greatest barrier to success: your other goals. The more goals you’re working toward at the same time, the less you’ll actually achieve because every bit of time and attention you give to one goal takes away from the others. Focus on one goal at a time, and you will progress much faster. 
  4. Follow the SMART criteria (see above). 
  5. Create an action plan. Break each goal down into tasks and steps, identify any obstacles and create a plan for how you’ll overcome them. And establish a timeline for each task. 
  6. Reflect on your commitment to each goal and identify the motivations behind each. “Stay focused on the positive outcomes and benefits,” said Chou. 
  7. Regularly review your progress against the established timeline and evaluate whether your strategies are effective. Adjust your goals and plans as needed based on new information or circumstances. 
  8. Celebrate small victories along the way, recognizing your effort and commitment to staying on track. 
  9. Seek feedback — share your goals with trusted colleagues, mentors, friends and family and solicit feedback and advice to gain additional perspectives. Then consider adjusting your goals based on their input. 
  10. Maintain a mindset of continuous improvement. “Learn from both successes and setbacks,” said Chou, “and adjust your approach and goals accordingly.”

Looking for inspiration for your goals? Check out these goals for 2024 from finance professionals.

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