LIGHTWEIGHT GOAL SETTING
The term “Goals”, is commonly used in today’s urban slang to mean “that’s something I want to aspire to do”. For example, you’re scrolling along on your social media app and see a picture of an elderly couple holding hands tagged #goals or #relationshipgoals, it means “hey that’s really cool, I want a relationship like that one day”. This particular use of the word has taken on a more “lightweight” meaning. It makes “goal” more like a wish. When we see that picture and just want the end product of a healthy relationship without even giving a passing thought to the decades of work that went into building that relationship, that’s a wish. Not a serious goal.
Likewise, in career and life, we tend to want to set goals for ourselves without really stopping to consider the practicality of the goals or the steps it will take to achieve them. Too many of us see something we like (hey, head of marketing sounds cool I can do that) but when we fail to meet those goals we set for ourselves or worse, don’t even make progress toward them, we may feel “not good enough”, “passed over”, or “unlucky”. In reality, we haven’t prepared or positioned ourselves to meet that so-called “goal”.
What I’m saying is, there’s more to setting goals than just making a personal wish list. These types of “goals” have no substance and are so lightweight, they will fly away at the first adverse wind!
GOAL SETTING THE HARD WAY
On the other side of the spectrum, if “goal setting” sounds intimidating to you, chances are, it’s because your previous experience in goal setting was lacking in practicality and planning. In the opposite as above, instead of essentially “making wishes” and calling them goals, you set your sights high and with a strong resolve, decide you’re just going to make it happen. However, the fatal flaw here is still the same– lack of practicality and planning. And the results are essentially the same: feeling like you’ve failed. Although most people on this end of the spectrum have more invested (physically, emotionally, and intellectually) and tend to fall harder.
The solution? An age-old concept called “SMART Goals”. SMART is an acronym developed decades ago by Peter Drucker which breaks down what it means to create real, practical, achievable goals. Professor Robert Ruben from St. Louis University later expanded the concept to “SMARTER”, adding on two feedback-related steps. So let’s dive right in and get you making goals that stick and won’t make you feel like a complete failure! Sound good?
Sensible, simple, significant. Each goal you set needs to be simple and specific. If you have a complex goal, maybe you can break it down into a couple different goals that perhaps build off of one another. (small bites!). In order to make your goal specific, answer these questions: Who?, what?, when?, where?, which? For example, instead of “Be more productive”, “Increase productivity by 20%” or “Complete X number of projects per week/ make X number of sales”, etc. Instead of “Lose weight”, “Lose 15 lbs. by August 1st”
Meaningful, motivating. Each goal you set needs to be something that matters to you. Something that you really want. And it should be measurable. Instead of just saying “To be more productive”, or “To eat healthier”, specifically set measures to know you are making progress, like tracking the amount you get done and comparing it to previous days, or making your own blacklist of foods you are choosing to stay away from, and perhaps a list of foods to try or incorporate into your new healthy lifestyle. Maybe gradually wean yourself off of the unhealthy items and gradually introduce healthy ones. Answer the questions: How much? How many? How will I know?
Agreed, attainable. Each goal should be realistic. It should stretch you but still be possible. Ask these questions: How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is it? What are the obstacles (i.e. financial, training, location, etc)? How can these be overcome? Note: beware of making goals that you don’t have power over, like a promotion where the decision is out of your control. Instead make your goal to become the prime candidate for the position.
Reasonable, realistic, results-based. Making sure your goals are relevant can be easily overlooked. This simply means that you need to take a look around and consider the full context of your current situation when setting goals. Consider personal circumstances as well as professional. If you have your sights on a certain promotion or position, is there someone that is better suited that would be beneficial to the company? Does the timing make sense for you? Do you have a spouse to consider? Does this goal meet match needs? Each goal should drive not only you, but those around you.
Another essential key to effectively setting goals is to set a target date. Having a deadline to work toward is necessary for staying focused and motivated. Can you imaging running a race with no finish line? When setting a goal, don’t set just one deadline for completion, but mark each step with a target date. This will help you mark your progress and make adjustments as needed. This will also help you keep your everyday tasks in balance with your long term goals. Ask yourself these questions: What should be accomplished 6 months from now? 6 weeks? Next week? Today? How can I incorporate these steps into my daily or weekly tasks?
E- EVALUATED &
The chance for success in meeting your goals can be dramatically increased by surrounding yourself with a good support system. Having people in your live to mentor, encourage and provide accountability to you is instrumental in keeping you on track and on target. These are also highly beneficial not only to help you meet goals, but to help you make them. Together, evaluate and review your goals in order to define and refine your goals and the steps it will take to get there. This takes SMART goal setting one giant step forward– to SMARTER goal setting!
If you’re looking for guidance, The Wineinger Company is flush with great resources and tools! Contact us today for more information!