Karl from tenfold.com reached out to me regarding this article from last year, and found it valuable. So, I thought I would repost it for you. Also, Ten Fold has an article on the same topic you will find useful as well. Please click here and take a look. Enjoy!
Goal development is an integral component for personal, professional, and organizational success. Goals drive direction to produce a result. Without a goal it is impossible to know where you are going. It would be like getting into your car and driving without a destination; there is no point in doing so. Now, my wife used to get into her car and just drive without a destination. But in this case, she just wanted to get out on her own and just think. The goal was not the destination, rather the opportunity to process her thoughts.
Have you ever heard someone say that they do not create goals, that way they cannot fail? Maybe even you have said this. The idea is, without a goal there is no chance of failing since there is no targeted result. This is a “wing it” type of lackadaisical attitude towards achieving something. This attitude is often aimed at some form of personal development preceded by a past failure.
The reality is most people create goals (sometimes subconsciously) to accomplish something. “I am not going to do anything today” is still a goal, with the result of accomplishing nothing. People with the idea of “no goal making for me” or often referring to a stretch goal such as a college degree or losing a few pounds. In the work place, this could be increasing sales by 10% each quarter, taking on a new routine task, or improving a process and reducing paper usage.
So we know goals are important, but what is a good goal to set and how is it developed? The acronym SMART has been used to help guide the goal development process. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. The SMART process is a great way to clearly identify the goal, how to know when it has been achieved, and some important characteristics of the goal.
Let’s define SMART
A goal must be as specific as possible. Instead of losing weight or increasing sales, you want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months by going to the gym 3 times per week or increase sales by 10% in 45 days by contacting 10 more potential clients per week. Some goals are a bit more challenging to specify, but the more clear the desired result is, the easier it will be to monitor and assess. Answer the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why) to help the goal become more specific.
A goal must be measured otherwise it is impossible to identify if progress is being made or when the goal is achieved. Measuring progress becomes some level of accountability and helps you remain focused on what is important. A measureable goal includes how many or how much and identifies what success looks like. The goal to lose 15 pounds in 3 months could be measured by checking weight loss each month and tracking the frequency of working out. Success looks like 15 pounds lost in 3 months.
A goal must stretch the individual or organization enough to make them work hard, but not so far as to cause unnecessary stress and strain. The goal should be just out of “arms reach.” Too far out and the goal is not likely attainable but too close and the goal will not stretch the individual or organization. An easy goal for someone in sales may be an increase of 10%, a stretch goal may be 25%, and an unattainable goal may be 50%. It is up to the individual or organization to determine what is just out of arms reach. The purpose of a goal is to stretch the individual or organization. This could require more time, training, finances, or a change of attitude.
A goal must be relevant to the person, project, or organizations mission. For example, if an organizations objective is to reduce paper usage across the state by 50% in the next fiscal year, an appropriate goal would be to develop an automated workflow to create and process PDF forms instead of printed forms and increase registered users by 2,000 each quarter.
Additionally, they must be relevant to the individual or organizational conditions. Using the same paper reduction example above, if the cost to become a registered user exceeds the budget of their target audience, then the goal of 2,000 users might not be relevant (or realistic, another “R” word used in the SMART acronym).
A goal must have a suspense. A suspense is the benchmark for which success can be assessed. A lack of a suspense results in a lack of urgency and potential failure.
To wrap it up
Whether you are looking to lose a few pounds, increase sales, or reduce your paper use, a goal may be simple or complex, long in duration or brief, involve an individual or organization. The most important fact to realize is that goals are meant to be achieved.
Samuel Johnson once said that, “people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Last week we discussed priorities and goals – what they are, how they are different, how they work with each other, and so on. This week will serve as a little reminder to actually sit down, write out your priorities and goals, review them, and create a continuous reminder – some way that works for you.
It’s not that you don't care, because I know you do, life just gets busy. What’s the quickest way to get these listed out? First, (be honest with yourself here) just think of what is important to you (priorities) and what you want to accomplish in life (goals). If you are struggling to get these down on paper, just start writing anything. You can always clean it up later. Once you have a few items listed, read the instructions below and check out last week’s post for some additional information – this will help.
Okay, I know you already read this, but it’s time to take action. Get your priorities and goals written down, remind yourself of them, and follow them continuously.
Until next time…
Each one of us have priorities and goals. They drive what we do and why. We may not realize we do, but they exist. What are the differences, why are they important, and how are they related?
Our priorities are what is most important to us, and we (must) follow them. They are a guide – more of a strict set of rules, if you will. Priorities are just that, priorities. They should be set in a clear order. Our first priority is just that, number one in our lives. Then move on down the line. If we place something in front of our priorities, any of them, then they do not align with who we are – or our priorities are not truly a priority.
I, like most of us, struggle in this area. This is partly why I am posting this. You see, I have a list of priorities and goals (listed at the end of this article), and I strive to achieve my goals regularly. But, sometimes (often?) I re-align my priorities or goals to meet some other objective. This, then, shows me my priorities are not in the right order – so they are not really a priority.
Priorities are our focus points that ensure we are working purposefully live our lives and achieve our goals. There is a saying that if it isn’t a complete and solid yes, then it must be a whole-hearted no. Why? If you cannot completely agree to do it, if it does not align with your priorities, then you must not entertain it, as this will mess with your priorities, your goals, and ultimately your life. You, your family, your business – your life – will ultimately suffer as a result. With that, if you are married or in a relationship, make sure you and your significant other are on the same page with your priorities and goals. If you are not in sync, your relationship will inevitably fail.
Our goals are what we strive to achieve. Goals may be personal (what we want for ourselves), professional (what we want to accomplish in our careers, businesses, etc. – both for us and our organizations), or family and friend focused (what we would like to do for others). This is not an all-inclusive list, but should get the idea across – our goals are something to attain.
Many businesses or non-profits have missions, visions, and goals, and so do individuals. Most of us have personal or family-focused goals like becoming financially independent, have a healthy marriage, raise successful and happy children, and so on. Some of these we may not even realize they are goals. Just think of what you want to possess, be, achieve… these are your goals. The question you – we – must ask is, are they important and do they align with our priorities.
How are goals and priorities connected?
First, define your priorities. What is most important in your life? List them. I have identified my five priorities, but you can have more or less. The idea here is to understand who you are, what you believe, and hold yourself accountable to them.
Second, identify your goals. These can be life goals, 5-year goals, family goals… whatever goal(s) you want to set. But they need to be something that will take time and effort to achieve. If they can be completed in a few days, weeks, or even months, chances are they are more of a to-do list item. These can change over time, as you accomplish them, as life changes, as you get older, etc. The point is, they should be something you strive and work for over a long period of time.
Last, a story. I used to play Monopoly with my family (oh-so seldom). My wife calls the game the “family fighting game”. Why? Because at some point, someone gains the upper-hand, owns the right properties, and leverages this against another. Sure, this is the point, but a fight ensues. Then, we change the rules (or we just didn't follow them to begin with). We start negotiating to gain or trade properties. But, we certainly didn't do it fairly. Instead of mortgaging the hotels, houses, then the properties, we began selling them just to stay in the game and hope we land on the right spot – but usually the person buying them would give some outrageous price and just own the board. Or, for example, we would agree that if my son owned a property, and gave my daughter “X” amount of monopoly money, that he would not have to pay her the landing-fees for 5 turns around the board. Thus, she could never increase her Monopoly cash stash. In the end, she loses (or I do, because that’s just how it works), and the fight begins – or continues.
They point to this story is to act in an ethical and moral manner. Following your priorities to achieve your goal is no simple task. Taking shortcuts may seem like the easy route, but it will eventually lead to devastation and destruction. We must keep our priorities in line as we strive to reach our goals, in an ethical and moral manner. Otherwise, what is the point.
Below are my priorities and goals. Feel free to use them as a guide. Another suggestion I heard on a podcast recently (sorry, I don’t recall which podcast), was to create a page on your website, visible to only those that have the URL, and save it as your browser home page. That way, anytime you open a new web page, you see your priorities and goals. Here is my oh so “secret” priorities and goals page - Jared's Priorities and Goals. You can also create a screen saver, background, printed copy hung next to your computer… whatever it takes to remind and keep you focused on them both.
What’s the point? This acts a constant reminder to you, of what your priorities and goals are. Does what you are about to search for or do on the internet align with your priorities and contribute to the achievement of your goals? If not, then why are you there?
Ultimately, your priorities and goals should complement each other, not take away from one or another. They should work in a symbiotic relationship towards meeting your goals while keeping in line with your priorities.
A little bit more about your priorities and goals.
My priorities and goals
Until next time…