Who has set a New Year’s resolution or goal, and it ended up being a total flop? We start off the year hot, wanting to make this the year that we officially get disciplined and reach all our goals and aspirations.
But something happens a few weeks in, and the excitement of the new year starts to fade, your discipline goes down the drain, your workload piles up, and your New Year’s goals aren’t so attractive anymore. You go from looking to thrive in the new year— to just trying to survive. So, what happens? Why are we not disciplined? How do we set goals we can actually accomplish?
Let’s dive into it.
This article will equip you to set goals worth pursuing and follow through with achieving those goals.
Where NOT To Begin
This is either going to sound obvious or convicting, but I firmly believe in knowing where not to start before starting something. It has been said that Michelangelo, one of the world’s most renowned artists, was asked about the genius behind his masterpiece, the sculpture of David. Michelangelo responded by saying, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that is not David.”
So, like Michelangelo, let’s chisel away the goals that are not quality goals.
Here are three mistakes you need to avoid when creating your goals:
1. Setting a goal that is task-centered and not growth-centered
As a professional, you must focus on growing your skills and knowledge. Too often, people focus on a task-centered goal rather than a goal that promotes personal growth and skill development.
When you pursue a goal that is task-centered, it is a short-term investment and can easily become a matter of completing something just to check it off your list. Whereas when you pursue a goal related to growth and not a task, it becomes a long-term investment.
Bad Goal: I want to make 15 sales this year.
This is not a good goal because it focuses on the task at hand and not this skill development. Your goal is developing the skill, and reaching a metric should be the byproduct.
Good Goal: I want to improve my negotiating skills so that I can build consensus and make at least 15 sales this year.
This goal holds more water, as it gives you a sense of direction and a means for achieving a certain metric.
2. Creating goals that become irrelevant too soon
Don’t do this: I am going to set an easily achievable goal, so I do not have to worry about not reaching my goal by the year’s end.
The goals you set should align with where your organization is headed. If the goal is skill acquisition or metrics based, make sure that your investment of time will advance your growth and that of your organization. You do not want to end up pursuing a goal that does not provide much value for you or your company.
Do this instead: I will set a goal that serves my company and myself. I am looking to develop my skills and move the needle for the company, and I can do this by creating goals that align with my organization’s objectives.
3. Setting too many goals
Setting too many goals is a recipe for defeat. When you set too many goals, you fall into one of two categories: you spread yourself too thin and set unrealistic expectations for yourself, or you end up setting mediocre goals that are not stretching or worth sharing. It is great practice to set three to five strong goals that will stretch you and require a reasonable amount of effort, thought, and time to achieve.
Setting goals takes time and introspection. Set aside 30-60 minutes when you are ready to record your goals. Here are four ways to get started:
1. If you set goals in the previous year, conduct a careful review of your goals and results.
Here are some questions to help your retrospection:
- Are there any natural extensions of your goals from the previous year that make sense to carry into this year?
- What did you learn about yourself during last year’s pursuit of your goals?
- What worked well?
- What failures, if any, did you experience?
2. If they are available, review your company’s objectives/goals for the next 1-5 years and determine how you can assist the organization in your role.
Identify areas where your unique gifts can be a difference-maker in paving the way for your company to meet its key objectives for the year. Remember, keep it aspirational and not a task-centered goal. Having intimate knowledge of your company’s objectives allows you to set goals that keep you focused on personal success that benefits your organization.
3. Determine an area where you would like to grow in your professional field and make that the overarching theme of your goals.
Some examples of themes include influence, sustainability, efficiency, skill acquisition, or leadership.
4. Use performance reviews to help you shape goals.
Many places of work offer performance evaluations where leaders can give feedback and thoughts on job performance. If your leader mentions areas where you can grow, use those as a basis for your goals. If performance evaluations are not part of your company’s normal rhythms, set up a meeting with your leaders to ask for feedback on your performance and what areas you can grow in.
Write your goals so specifically that if you were to assign them to someone else, that person would know exactly what is expected of them and how they would be evaluated. Bringing clarity to goals allows you to stay laser-focused on what you are pursuing. Vague goals cause confusion, a lack of focus, and ultimately, discouragement.
Maybe writing quality goals hasn’t been a part of your struggle. Maybe your struggle has been seeing your goals through. It is easy to lose sight of your goals in the busyness of the year. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult when you take the right steps to maintain your goals. Here are three ways to maintain your goals throughout the year:
1. View your goals as objectives.
For each objective, write two to four key results. Objectives answer the question, “Where do I want to go.” Key results answer the question, “How do I know if I am getting there.” For a detailed framework on objective and key results, visit this article.
Objective: This year, I want to focus on becoming a servant leader. Becoming a servant leader is important because I value those around me and want to be a leader worth following.
I will attend one Leadership Summit with WinShape Teams because they instruct from a servant leadership model
I will be able to recall five times this year when I was intentional about putting others’ interests before my own
I will read at least two books about servant leadership
2. Schedule check-ins with yourself on your calendar.
Schedule weekly, monthly, and quarterly check-ins with yourself to evaluate how you are pursuing your goals. These check-ins will help you carve out time to make sure you’re on track, and they also provide room to modify your goals if something out of your control has changed the trajectory of your goals (ex., responsibility changes, parental leave, a project was scrapped, change in leadership).
3. Find someone to hold you accountable.
Pick someone who is invested in your work and wants to see you succeed. Share your goals with that person and ask him or her to hold you accountable by scheduling quarterly meetups to discuss your progress. Also, you can utilize a WinShape Teams certified coach to walk alongside you and hold you accountable.
Setting goals doesn’t have to lead to disappointment and discouragement. You can transform your career and enhance your company’s overall performance by setting and pursuing quality goals!