We hear a lot about how important it is to set goals. They are important. Anyone in a leadership position, whether running their own business or working for someone else, will tell you that setting goals is an integral part of growth – and that applies to individual growth, team growth and organizational growth.
However, goals should be viewed as more than a road map to help an individual or organization reach specific checkpoints; they are also a key predictor of success. They should be set with an expectation that they will be achieved.
Goal setting should be a serious part of your planning. Serious because too often a goal setting session can feel like you’re just creating a bucket list or playing a “what if” game of wishes. Goals should always follow the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Your goals should be linked directly to your vision.
You want to dream big. You want to challenge yourself. And to see success you have to set goals.
Start by writing everything down. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and put your goals in writing. Dr. Gail Matthews’ research showed that of the people in her study, those who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve those goals.
Next, be specific. Include details and descriptions. This will help you get a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. It’s hard to achieve some vague dream. But if you can put your goal into words, you will have a much better chance of reaching it. Your long-term goal should include short-term goals that will help you achieve the ultimate goal.
Once you have a specific goal to achieve, create a plan to reach that goal. This plan should include specific steps you will take to get achieve the goal. As is true with most anything you do in life, if you break it down into smaller steps, you will eventually get there. Include checkpoints to evaluate your progress. Do you need to make any revisions? Part of the journey is discovering what works and what doesn’t … and being able to adjust to get back on track.
Finally, set a deadline. Your timeline will likely be determined by the goal itself. If it requires input from different members of your organization, you will need to work together to set a realistic timeline. Even if you are setting a personal goal, you want to make sure you set yourself up for success by giving yourself a realistic deadline.
As you set out to achieve your goals, make sure you do so with an attitude of positive expectation. If you expect failure, you are more likely to experience failure. While a failure itself is not an end, it’s a chance to learn what didn’t work and then try something else, if it births an attitude of pessimism, then it has set you on a path to more failure.
Our expectations are remarkably predictive of our success.