Setting Successful Goals
Updated: Jan 14
“Oh well, I’ll just set the goals again for next year”, I said to myself. It was December and while reviewing my goals for the last year, I realized I had only achieved 3 of the 15 I had set. Yikes. That was definitely disappointing.
At least I was in good company. According to the University of Scranton, a whopping 92% of people who set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them.
I used to dread setting goals for the next year. There are so many questions … where do you start? Where should my focus be? What are the priorities? I wanted to do everything. And so at first, I would set goals to do just that – everything. My goals became a laundry list which evolved into a wish list as I was never going to be able to finish them all. In fact, by trying to do it all, I hardly completed any. I quickly realized I needed some kind of process to help me focus and prioritize as well as allow me to execute on both my personal and professional goals.
It is very similar in business. At this time of the year, we should be setting or getting ready to set our business goals for 2020. But without focus, we can easily choose either too many goals or the wrong goals.
Let’s start at the beginning with what a goal is. “It is the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result, normally within a finite time.” So, as with a number of things that involve creativity and thinking, it’s best to start with the end in mind and work backwards. What is our desired result and how are we going to get there?
Unfortunately, most goal setting is done the opposite way. We start by thinking about projects rather than goals. What starts out as a seemingly easy and achievable goal is actually massive and involves numerous steps to get to the desired result. Let’s look at six steps that can lead to the successful achievement of goals:
Start with the end in mind. What is it we are trying to achieve? What’s the objective? We need to have an overall plan of where we want the company to be by a specific date.
Keep the goal very specific. What does success look like and by when should it be achieved? We need to define this and ensure nothing about what we want to deliver on is vague.
Break each goal into bite-sized chunks. Here’s where the Creighton Abrams quote comes into play; “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” At The Resultants, we work with our clients on ensuring that once we have established the objectives for the year, we create quarterly milestones (or Rocks) that, if completed, will help achieve the overall goal.
Measure progress. Sounds simple doesn’t it? However, unless we have set and agreed to measure our progress, how do we know we are on track to achieve the goals? Some companies use a scorecard with key weekly metrics, mostly populated with leading indicators, that help us know where we stand.
Hold yourself and others accountable. Much like a workout buddy or a private trainer, it helps to institute a system that allows for joint accountability. When you have to review progress with someone other than yourself, it’s more difficult to admit we aren’t hacking it. However, by doing so, we can help motivate ourselves to meet their expectations.
Celebrate success. Have a reward built in for when you hit the goals. Whether it’s dinner with the team or a special award, make sure it’s celebrated.
Take a few minutes to ask yourself how serious you are about your new goals. Are you setting yourself and your company up for success? Are you using a process designed for achieving the desired outcome? If you’re still unsure, try this six-step process and look forward to being a part of the 8% who do achieve their New Year’s goals.
Author, Peter Beaumont, is a trusted partner of The Resultants®. To learn more about Peter, connect with him on Linkedin.