If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
I’ve made it no secret that our mission here at Best Practice is to empower and improve 100-million companies worldwide. While some might read that and think it’s hyperbole, it’s actually a perfect example of putting goal-setting into practice to inspire both myself and the team that I’ve surrounded myself with.
The findings from the research on the psychological benefits of goal setting are plain to be seen: individuals without a clear goal or plan to achieve that goal are less likely to be successful when compared to those with both a goal and a feasible plan to make that materialise. Similarly, research shows that people that fail to write down these goals, or at least mentally refer to them regularly are less likely to hit their target.
Goals are how we remember we’re on the right path, and the higher you set these goals, the more motivated you’ll be in your day to day activities. Goals give you the momentum you need to keep pushing toward the finishing line, and without them, it’s easy to come up short in terms of motivation. This is particularly essential when we think about times of adversity and tough financial quarters. While the micro-side of the equation might require you to readjust the ways in which you achieve your goals, the macro-side remains the same, with that overarching goal acting as your north star on the journey to improvement.
Be specific, pointed and create an action plan
“A goal properly set is halfway reached” Zig Ziglar
Sometimes I hear the point made that goal setting isn’t a great idea because of the misery that can be accompanied by someone or some organisation not meeting their stated goal. While I’m empathetic about the emotional distress of not meeting a goal, I’m dismissive of the notion that goals are counter-productive to inspiring results. If you look at it under the microscope, it’s the fear of not achieving the goal that is holding them back, not the concept of the goal itself. In light of this, one of the biggest tips I can give you in the context of goal setting is to be as specific as you can, and use this to create an action plan that can make this imagined goal a reality.
You might have heard of SMART objectives in relation to goal setting, and if you haven’t- maybe start taking notes. When making goals, you want them to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound: hence the acronym SMART. Without these, goals that are vague or unrealistic are difficult to tick off the list, and so the psychological torture begins. To combat this, use SMART objectives when you’re setting goals, and then you can begin to regularly check-in with your goals - and your progress - as time passes. A specific goal will help you filter out vaguarities that can confuse you to what the actual goal is, while measurable goals will help you track your progress and give you some urgency if you’re not hitting where you want to be at a certain check-in date.
“Settings goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins
Actionable goals start with verbs: “I will finish writing this report by the end of the day,” which has an implicit and measurable deadline factored in. Realistic goals will help you to keep grounded, and aim for milestones that are truly achievable, and the last piece of the puzzle, time, as we’ve just discussed, is a great way to implement check-in dates and implement subsequent steps if you’re not exactly where you want to be at the quarter, half-way and three-quarter mark.
It’s impossible to talk about goals and goal-setting without touching on the topic of milestones, which ties in closely to an idea I wrote about recently, the importance of celebrating the wins in your organisation. This extends to the personal context when talking about goals- in order to establish a positive feedback loop in the brain, celebrating milestones along the way is invaluable in terms of keeping up the pace, and making sure your organisation - or yourself - doesn’t get burnt out on the way to your destination. We mentioned earlier that your goals need to be specific and measurable, so on your journey, don’t forget to stop and celebrate the little milestones along the way. The benefits will keep you motivated to reach the pinnacle of your stated goal, and is absolutely invaluable when it comes to staying productive over time.
Thanks for listening- and here’s to your journey to improvement with better goal setting!