You are a leader, so there is a good chance you are a disciplined goalsetter. If you have attended any of our trainings, I am sure you practice SMART goals. If we had any influence on you, goalsetting is a routine discipline in your life. Every year you take some time to set goals and plan your year. Perhaps you even have an annual goalsetting retreat, when you put all your goals on paper. But here is a problem. Like everything in life, the discipline of goalsetting can become a routine. So, let’s change it up a bit.
What We Learned
I have been teaching goalsetting for more than 18 years and setting SMART goals for myself and my work for longer than that. This long journey has taught me a number of things that I have incorporated in my practice. Now I decided to put some of them to paper and share with you. Here are five lessons I have learned in recent years that transformed the way I set goals.
Build on your achievements. I used to set goals every year without any special attention to the past, but some more experienced goalsetters taught me to review, celebrate, and critique my goals and results in preparation for setting new goals. This simple practice has motivated me and helped me build on my achievements, moving steadily towards my God-given vision with more focus.
Watch your life balance. Leaders often focus so much on performing at that they end up living an unbalanced life, neglecting their health and/or family, and suffering negative consequences from that. I believe we all need to set as many goals for our private life (family, health, finances, leisure) as we do for work.
Limit the number. One thing I learned from several of the “experts” is setting too many goals can be a recipe for failure. Think of it this way: If you set twenty goals, you need to achieve ten of them just to have a 50% performance. On the other hand, if you are able to set three goals and reach two, that’s a 2/3 achievement. What is the ideal number? Opinions vary greatly. Personally, I try to stay between 5 and 7, with only two or three being work-related.
Set different deadlines. Another thing I learned from several “goalsetting gurus” is that setting all your goals with a December 31st deadline can result in stress in the last months of the year. Spread your deadlines throughout the year and it will ease the tension and help you succeed.
Break your goals by quarter. I saved this for last because it is probably the biggest lesson about setting goals that I learned in the last several years. Monitoring your progress is essential for the achievement of your goals. For me, the practice of quarterly reviews has been the most significant improvement to my goalsetting discipline. All it takes is asking the familiar question “what do I need to accomplish in the next three months to make progress towards this goals,” and then prioritizing the three most important ones.
This post is being published during the season when proactive visionary leaders begin making plans for the next year. Maybe you have a goalsetting retreat coming up. You can make significant progress next year by observing these simple changes to our goalsetting discipline for 2020.
P.S. In past years, I have written several posts about goalsetting. If you are new to the practice or want to brush up on the subject, here are four of our past posts on the subject. I hope you enjoy them.