Setting clear goals is the first step to achieving them. Goals are powerful tools that motivate us to develop strategies that lead to goal achievement (provided we execute those strategies).
But here's the thing: most of us set too many goals and we tend to set them too far into the future.
The ideal time horizon for goal setting is about 90 days. It's not too far into the future to seem irrelevant and close enough to feel achievable.
When setting goals I recommend using the tried and testing S.M.A.R.T. approach.
Each of your goals needs to be:
Setting specific goals helps you get clarity which drives motivation. Getting clear on the context of the goal often helps to increase your understanding of the goal and that leads to clarity and specificity.
Try asking yourself the questions that start with the 5 Ws when setting your goal:
Whatam I trying to accomplish?
Whyis this goal important to me right now?
Whowill be involved with this endeavor?
Wherewill I have to be located to achieve this?
Whichresources will I need to involve?
Note: While specific goals are important (and valuable), Mark Manson makes a strong case for throwing general goals into the mix.
How will you know when you've reached your goal?
How many happy customers will you have? How many new members will you have enrolled in your membership program? How much revenue or profit will you have made by the end of the quarter?
By having clarity around how you're going to measure your success you can track your progress which will help you stay motivated.
Tracking your progress to your goal helps you meet deadlines and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
Setting unrealistic goals is demotivating. You need to ensure that your goal is realistic and attainable — ideally within the next 90 days.
The goals shouldn't be super easy to attain though. It should stretch your abilities but not be completely out of reach.
Some useful questions to ask to help you set an achievable goal include:
Can I do 10% better than I did last quarter?
Will I be able to achieve this goal given the various financial constraints we're working with right now?
Do we have the capacity to improve despite headwinds e.g. a contracting market place due to Covid-19?
Do I have the resources I need to achieve this growth?
You should set goals that are relevant to you and your business. This means they should align with your overall business objectives and your vision. They should also not be in conflict with your other goals.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to test for relevance:
Is this goal aligned with my company's vision?
Does this goal align with our company values or is there a conflict?
Is this the best time to work towards this goal? Are the market conditions favourable? Or are we better off doing this at a different time of year?
Without a clear target date, you won't have a sense of urgency which means you won't have agency.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
When will I have achieved this goal by?
What milestones will I need to hit to achieve the goal and how will I measure my progress using those milestones?
What do I need to do to get started today?
You might want to print out this goal-setting worksheet and get started now.
Setting goals is critical because they create a point of focus. They help you garner your resources and direct them to an outcome way that's focused. They provide you with the motivation and excitement that you feel as you progress towards goal achievement.
But the value of habits is often overlooked. Goals are the destination but habits are the journey to that destination. That's where the rubber hits the road. That's where the magic happens.
What goals are you going to set for yourself in 2022? Let us know in the comments below.
Ash Roy has spent over 15 years working in the corporate world and collected an MBA (Masters In Business Administration) from the Australian Graduate School of Management along the way.