Goal setting might be personal or corporate but the process is the same: Establishing short- or long-term objectives, usually incorporating deadlines, tactics and quantifiable measurements. At its simplest, a goal is just something you aim for. But goals are powerful contributors to successful business and personal growth in several ways.
To begin with, the process of setting goals forces you to think through what you want from your business or your life and how growth may–or may not–provide that. The process of building a strategy to achieve the goal or goals helps suggest directions for pursuing that goal, which can greatly improve your chances of achieving success in the first place.
If goal setting is so effective then you might wonder why people aren’t doing it more frequently. Why do only 5% of people do it on a regular basis? I think most people have goals. The biggest problem is that people think they are setting themselves up for failure if they set out goals that they may not reach. This fear of failure is simple enough that it can prevent people from even taking the first step in setting out goals. The second most prevalent reason that people don’t make goals is that they procrastinate. Whether the activity is something that they dislike or other things get in the way, goal setting is one of those important but not urgent activities that can be put off until tomorrow.
Too many of us treat goal setting the same way. We dream about where we want to go but we don’t have a “map” or plan to get there. What is a map? In essence, it’s the written word. What is the difference between a dream and a goal? Once again, it’s the written word.
Figuring out Steps
In order to start assessing your goals, you must first ask why this is your goal or is it really your goal. Some people have goals because they reflect other people’s needs for them. For instance someone’s goal may be to get into med school because that is what your parents wanted for them since they were small. By figuring out why it is your goal, you are answering why that goal is important and this will keep you focused and committed to the achievement of the goal.
Despite many exhortations to the contrary, failure is an option. The key is to figure out how you may fail ahead of time and plan for contingencies. You can work towards your objectives with a positive frame of mind by figuring that everything will be OK but if something doesn’t go exactly the way you plan it, you could be in big trouble unless you have a contingency plan. Contingency planning is an approach to figuring out what could go wrong in any situation and being prepared with plans and strategies for avoiding or coping with changes in your plan.
You’ve probably heard this stuff before but each of your goals must be assessed in order to determine whether it is S.M.A.R.T. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. Now too many people focus exclusively in goal setting on whether goals are smart. This is only one tool in a pantheon of useful techniques in setting goals.
Of all the things that you can do to set and meet your goals, perhaps the most powerful is to find a person to whom you can report your goals on a regular basis. Research by the American Society of Training and Development shows how being accountable to someone else actually affects goal achievement. The research measured the likelihood of completing a goal, with each bullet showing the percentage odds that change will happen.
More On Goal Setting
If you like reading things instead of watching videos I’ve written up a short summary of what we were trying to get at in these videos. Check it out if you want a bit more depth on the subject.