The Fine Art of Setting Goals

When you were a child, you probably set goals all the time without realizing it. “I want to get A’s and B’s – nothing lower – in school.” “I want to save up enough money to buy Nintendo for X dollars.” “I want to master throwing a curve ball.”

Even back then, you knew that setting and achieving goals helped you make the most of your life. As an adult, that same principle now applies to you both personally and professionally. The fact is, we are hard-wired to set and achieve goals – and then make new ones.

Goals help you define the handprint you want to be known for by:

  • Creating a vision of what you want your life to look like
  • Staying motivated
  • Focusing your attention
  • Organizing your time
  • Gaining new skills or knowledge
  • Building self-confidence

Mastering a curve ball is much different than, say, building a company to $50 million a year in revenue. When you set big, hairy, audacious goals – which I love, by the way! – both my clients and I have found it very helpful to use the popular WHYSMART pneumonic. You probably know it, but it’s always worth repeating:

  • W – Written (Write the goal out)
  • H – Harmonious (Connects with you)
  • Y – Yours (It is your goal…not someone elses’)
  • S – Specific (or Significant)
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful with numbers)
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
  • R – Relevant (or Rewarding)
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable/Dated)

You probably also already know how important it is to write down goals, share your goals with others, and break each goal down into specific, actionable steps. Here are a few other tricks I urge my clients to use when setting goals:

Write positive goals

State your goal in positive, rather than negative, terms. “Build a team of people smarter than me” instead of “Don’t hire the wrong people.”

Prioritize goals

If your goal is to build a $50 million company, you’ll have several sub-goals, each with its own steps that will help you achieve that big goal. The best way to tackle this is by prioritizing goals. For instance, perhaps it is more important to build your team first before going after Fortune 100 clients.

Set performance goals over outcome goals 

As you work to build that $50 million company, you will run into bumps along the way that stop you from hitting, say, this year’s revenue projections. To keep discouragement at bay, set performance goals instead. Did your team increase sales? Great, you met your performance goals; it’s not your fault that your biggest client went bankrupt.

Be realistic

There is nothing more disheartening than setting goals you cannot possibly achieve. That’s why I so admire a friend of mine who is building her company slowly and purposefully. She recognizes and embraces reality: she’s not just a CEO, but she’s also a wife, mom, and friend, and she is absolutely committed to taking time out for herself every day.

If you, too, need balance in your life, I applaud you for recognizing that – and for setting realistic goals you can reach. Remember that the tortoise, not the hare, wins the race!

Now it’s your turn: What is the one goal that would make the biggest difference in your life right now?  What change could you make to set yourself up to succeed more than you are now? 

As you write your goals contact us if you want help or a Goal Setting Power Grid to set the right goal and achieve your goal.  We are experts at goal setting!