You see it every day in your daily lives and particularly at year-end, with all of the New Year resolutions and business plans. Next year you are going to do all of those things you have never done, and more. Or maybe you just want to get back to where you used to be. You set goals for some really important reasons:
- Keep you on target
- Make better decisions
- Keep you focused
- Increase self-motivation
- Develop self-confidence
- How many goals do you have going right now?
- How have the anticipated rewards influenced your progress (or lack thereof)?
- Are all of your goals planned out fully? What difference might it make?
- How do you know if you really are going to achieve those goals?
Here is a quick quiz to see if you are on track:
- Do I state my goals in a way that tells exactly what will be achieved and by when?
- Are my goals measurable in a way that I will know whether they are achieved or not?
- Do I set goals that are attainable and are not designed to stretch to some level below that goal?
- Are my goals set realistically high so that they require some sort of behavior change?
- Do all my goals have a definite target date for completion?
- Do I evaluate my goals to make sure that I do not have too many goals?
- Have I taken the time to prioritize my goals?
- Have I written down all of my goals?
- Do all the people who contribute to my goals know exactly what the goals are and how they contribute to them?
- Have I thought through in advance and considered all the detailed steps that it will take to complete my goal?
The answer to every question above should always be yes whether it is a personal or professional goal. For every question you answered as “no,” you can probably drop your goal success rate downward by at least 20%. Do not try to put more importance on any one of these items as that would be like building the engine of your car or baking a cake and saying one part or ingredient is more important than the other. The reality is that if one part or ingredient is missing, your car will probably not start or your cake will be inedible.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the critical factors that can help you increase your goal success rate to over 90%. There are too many factors to cover in this article so my aim is to clarify some of the top (key) points.
There are a lot of things you do (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve or not to achieve your goals. although I would agree that outside circumstance can play a role in goal achievement. If you are honest with yourself, when you fail to achieve a goal, whether it’s more sales, customer retention, employee retention, or something personal like weight loss, success or failure is more dependent on the goal-setter than on outside influences.
I always get a funny look when I discuss this issue with clients and friends. Many people think that because they made a decision, they made a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually, the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments, particularly the larger the group size.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something, maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it, consultants are hired, friends and colleagues conferred with, money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action, and all of a sudden the inevitable happens – problems arise, big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes.
What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than solving the problems, they ignore all of the thought that went into making the decision and allow emotion to take over. Their commitment to the decision it took them a year to make crumbles, and with it the chance of following through on the decision.
IF YOU MAKE A DECISION, MAKE A COMMITMENT!
The first step in setting goals is to establish a SMART goal that is stated positively. As alluded to in the Quiz, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based. However, one often-overlooked item is the goal must be Yours. While this criterion seems simple, it is actually not easy in execution. If it were, everyone would achieve a lot more goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:
- Specific – You say exactly what it is you are going to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, we are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX. You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
- Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way so that you can definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see if the trend is negative in order to modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, we are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff. How many additional meetings would you consider acceptable? What purpose would these meetings serve?
- Attainable and Realistically High – Goals should have sufficient rewards and/or consequences to be motivational, and they must be attainable. If it appears that your goal will not require any kind of behavior change, challenge yourself to make sure that it does. Either the goal is too low, or you are not being realistic about what it will take to get there. The reality is you have set it as a goal because you are not already doing it, and the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
- Time Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your goal list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.
The following is an example of a SMART goal:
- Get 10 appointments by the end of this quarter with decision-makers in the hospitality industry within 50 miles of the Miami area whose companies employ more than 250 people
Write your goals down and broadcast them!
It is not unusual to meet people that have goals about which nobody knows. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal or organizational circumstances it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:
- It strengthens commitment.
- Unwritten goals change unconsciously.
- It rounds out your thought process and gives you an opportunity to think things through.
- It provides a means to communicate to everyone who is responsible for execution.
If you have goals and they are not communicated succinctly to everyone who is responsible for doing what it takes to get to where you want to go, what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, and that has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!
Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213 or [email protected].