“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Henry David Thoreau
The ability to set and achieve one’s goals puts success in motion. It allows an individual or organization to maintain a mindset of futuristic thinking while accomplishing everyday tasks. An effective goal-achievement process requires the establishment of goals that are relevant, realistic and attainable, equipping individuals and organizations to complete their goals regardless of obstacles or adverse circumstances. This process, and the individual who can master it, is invaluable to any team, business or organization.
Before one can master the process of goal achievement, they must first attain a full understanding of what a goal is, why we need goals, and how we set goals.
What is a goal? A goal is an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.[i] Goals tend to be mid to long range in timeframe and usually consist of multiple action steps in order to achieve the final goal. Goals take many forms including project completion, competency improvement or outperforming a competitor. In setting goals, it is best to highlight a few important results to be achieved.
Why do we set goals? Goals significantly enhance success. From an organizational perspective, goals promote consistent direction through all departments, clarify organizational desires, and help us deliver on commitments to each other and our external stakeholders. Goals set targets that help us orient and focus on a common end point.
From a personal perspective, goals help individuals imagine a better future and establish plans to make progress toward that end. They help us clarify direction and hold us accountable to reaching that destination. Goals help us focus on priorities and measure our progress.
How do I set goals? Before you reach for your pen, take a moment to review the company’s 2014 goals as well as your department’s goals. Being aware of the broader spectrum of goals and where your company is headed will help you both formulate and align your goals within your company and department. Remember, none of us is a lone-ranger. We need each other to serve our ultimate purpose – the customer.
Now let’s try a SMART goal together.
Example: By June 15, 2014, create an on-line leadership skill development program using PowerPoint presentations which are 45 minutes in length for managers to utilize in coaching direct reports to improve leadership skills so that these new leaders have training to more effectively lead their teams. This goal supports our corporate initiative to develop company-wide leadership.
|Specific||Clearly define what you are going to do answering “What, Why and How.||Our goal answers:What? Create an on-line leadership skill development program|
How? Using power-point presentations which are 45 minutes in length
Why? So that these new leaders have training to more effectively lead their teams.
|Measurable||Declares a measure of success.||Our goal will be implemented by June 15, 2014|
|Aligned||The goal is realistic and the implementers have the skills, authority, and resources to complete it.||This goal supports our corporate initiative to develop company-wide leadership.|
|Realistic||The goal is realistic and the implementers have the skills, authority, and resources to complete it.||For our goal, you must have the skills and resources to create an on-line program using PowerPoint.|
|Time-bound||Goals include a timeframe that generates a sense of urgency toward completion.||June 15, 2014 provides a time-bound deadline.|
Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself a little in setting new goals. The specificity of what you want to achieve will help guide your action steps. You’ll measure your progress by setting deadlines and milestones for yourself along the way. Understanding how your goals align with your company and department goals provides more meaning and fulfillment in accomplishing them. While it’s useful to brainstorm and dream big, creating realistic goals drives success for yourself and those depending upon you. Set a timeframe for your goal’s completion so you deliver on time.
Now it’s your turn to try setting a few goals. After you have drafted 3-5 individual goals for yourself, review them with your manager and solicit feedback. Your manager will have broader perspective on your team and organization’s direction.
After you and your manager agree on your goals, plan for success. Identify what you need to be successful. Who you will need to work with and what resources or assistance will be required? Hold yourself accountable by monitoring your progress and reviewing status with your manager frequently throughout the goal completion timeline.
Consistently achieving one’s goals is a huge asset to any organization. It fosters trust, confidence and a winning spirit within the workplace. By understanding the what, why and how of goal-setting, and implementing these tools into your daily work, you become a master in goal-achievement leading to success at work, home and in your community. Goal-achievement done right births fulfillment and satisfaction in your life.