If You Want To Succeed, You Must Set Goals!
There is a reason why goals are so important. Goals push us to do better. Goals give us focus and direction. If you want to succeed you need to set goals. Goal setting allows you to take control of your life’s or company’s direction and provides you a benchmark for determining whether or not you are succeeding. By the end of 2020 you will have ended up somewhere. Will it be where you or your company wanted or needed you to be?
Major Goal Categories
There are several types of goals. These include business goals such as increasing profitability, customer service, retention, efficiency, and growth; career goals such as increasing professional knowledge, improving work relationships, attaining new experiences, and honing leadership skills; and personal goals such as improving family relationships, financial stability, health and wellness.
Goal types can be interdependent on each other. For instance, if your family issues go unchecked, your ability to fully engage on the job could be impacted. If your personal development lags, you may lack the skills to be promotable. If your leadership behaviors are subpar, decreased employee engagement may cause you to fail on profitability.
Deciding Which Goals To Pursue
Start with strategy when deciding on which goals to pursue. Remember that the role of leaders is two-fold: helping drive near-term performance and ensuring long-term sustainability to prepare for the future. Your goals should reflect this!
One of the biggest challenges we face in setting and reaching our goals is that many of us have far too many goals going on at the same time. To avoid this “goal clutter” we need to reduce and reframe our goals. First, determine what is your BHAG – your big hairy audacious goal you want to achieve this year that will help you step into your vision of success? What are your biggest gaps or obstacles towards reaching this goal? What is most likely to cause you to fail or be less successful than you could have been?
Then consider what truly motivates you. What are you willing to spend your discretionary effort on? Have you truly bought into the potential outcomes of reaching this goal? Only set goals that are so meaningful that you would allocate your precious time and valuable energy to them! Create a value statement for each goal by asking yourself, “If I were to share this goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?”
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must rigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
Goals should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Actionable (and Attainable), Relevant (and Realistic) and Time Bound. Specific goals make it easy to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.
Determining specific measures upfront helps you track progress and allows you the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that you have actually achieved something. Setting realistic, yet challenging goals, brings the greatest personal satisfaction. And of course, your goals must have a deadline.
It is important to divide a particularly complex or time-consuming goal into more manageable subsections. Identifying interim targets for your goals keeps you moving in the right direction. Small incremental wins are a very powerful incentive and create valuable momentum.
Measuring Progress And Achieving Goals
Measurement must be a key part of the goal strategy from the beginning – not an afterthought. A good rule of thumb is to set two key performance metrics for each goal up front. Determine what you want to measure, figure out how to measure it, and obtain any necessary buy-in early in the process. When possible, use existing reporting systems/procedures with which you can monitor progress. Include precise amounts (in measures that make sense) and dates (by when exactly) in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. In order to show your improvement, you have to know your starting point, so it may be necessary to assess the current performance of your chosen improvement target.
Also, remember that many seemingly intangible goals can be restated in a measurable way. The unmeasurable, “communicate better with my team” may be restated as the easily measured, “hold 1:1 meetings with each team member bi-weekly.” Goals based on improving the ‘quality’ of your life such as improved relationships are more difficult, but not impossible, to quantify. Try relating the goal progress to a measurable unit – like time. For example, a goal focused on improving family relationships could be measured by the amount of quality time per day you spend with your children.
When thinking about how to achieve goals, ask yourself the following questions:
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