Many goal-setting resources talk about and teach SMART goals. In case you have never heard of it, SMART is an acronym that suggests all goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound. As a leader with massive potential, you should go beyond SMART
Nine Keys to Better Goal Setting
1. Write goals down. Clarity comes in writing goals down, and this is just as true for individual goals as for team goals.
2. State goals in the present tense. Our subconscious minds, which are exponentially more powerful than our conscious minds, like to solve problems. When you state your goals as if they have already occurred, you stimulate and challenge your subconscious mind to seek opportunities to reach the goal.
3. Visualize the purpose — personally and organizationally. Our minds can’t tell the difference between something real and something vividly imagined, which means that the more vivid, multi-sensory and real you can make the picture of how things will be when you have achieved the goal, the more powerfully drawn to it you will be.
4. Focus on the “Big Why.” The goal isn’t enough; you need to know why you want to achieve it. It is your why that will keep you motivated and moving forward.
5. Align goals with your values. If your goals aren’t aligned with your personal or organizational values, they are likely to be weak and unsuccessful. Chances are your goals will be aligned with your values, and as you set your goals make sure they are.
6. Find the Bigness Balance. Although you need to find a balance, generally speaking, when in doubt, go bigger.
7. Consider the timeline now. When you set the goal, start your planning process, including a rough timeline of the steps and when you need to reach them in order to achieve your desired outcome on time.
8. Think about barriers now. You won’t know all of the challenges you will face, but you probably know some of your barriers now. Write them down. If you have ideas for overcoming them, write them down too. By identifying some of the barriers, you expedite your planning and improve your chances for success.
9. Commit to an action plan. Now you must commit to completing the plan and implementing it. If you aren’t willing to do these two steps, how likely are you to achieve the goal?
Moving From Goal Setting to Goal Getting
Once you have set the goal and built the plan to achieve it, there is that little thing called doing the “work” that still needs to happen.
Knowing that it will take effort and knowing human nature, we can understand why many goals are never reached — people don’t put in the requisite effort.
As a leader, there are a number of things you can do to improve the likelihood that the goals set by and with your team are reached. The steps that follow are specific and direct things you can do to improve the success of your team in achieving their goals:
• Visualize. Visualization will help make the goal more real, and realizing our goals allows us to realize our goals. The bigger the goal, the more important visualization becomes. As goals get bigger, it is important to make even more effort to help people visualize not only the end goal, but also the major milestone points along the way, and even to visualize success in managing the plan itself.
• Flex. You need to be willing to flex your plan and your timeline to meet new realities, and maybe even flex the goal itself. Plans are important and they will be more effective when they are flexible.
• Implement consistently. As a leader, if you are serious about goal achievement, you must feverishly focus on implementation.
• Provide time. Google is famous for giving people one day per week to work on whatever projects they want — outside of their “regular” job. Although you may dismiss the idea out of hand as Silicon Valley silliness, the practice has led to innovations that are significant contributors to their bottom line (Google Mail is just one example).
• Schedule time. If you are serious about achieving the goals you have set, and you want your team to be serious too, put goal time on the calendar. Until you schedule it in everyone’s calendar (including yours), you won’t achieve as many of your goals as you could.
• Provide resources. As a new leader, you may not realize all the resources you have at your disposal, but you have them. Use them abundantly in support of goal achievement.
• Make it a priority. If the goals aren’t a priority for you, they certainly won’t be for your team. If they are a priority for you, make sure you are showing obvious and outward proof of this fact. Ultimately what matters isn’t goal setting, it is goal getting.