Published: November 14, 2018 | Comments
We're well into the fourth quarter, which means we're focused on ensuring a strong finish to the year, as well as finalizing budgets and setting 2019 objectives. It's my favorite time of year, perhaps because I love reflecting on the progress made and lessons learned this year and dreaming about the possibilities held by the coming year. Now is a great time to reflect, readjust, and refocus - and think about your 2019 goals.
But don't get burdened with the same, tired goal-setting approach. Here is some food for thought as you plan your goals.
If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. -Zig Ziglar
Set your big goals first. Your big goals should be a bit scary. Consider one big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG from Jim Collin's book, "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies"). This goal will push you past your limits, but that's the exact spot where the magic (and growth) takes place. Even if you don't achieve the BHAG, by pushing past your limits, you will achieve some amazing things. You will also develop some major grit in the process that will serve you well in the future.
Your big goal should line up with your company's strategic objectives. Think about how you and your team can help your company achieve these objectives, then set smaller goals that ensure your team is rowing in the same direction. From there, you and your employees should figure out what each of their priorities should be to achieve the big goal. Break it down into smaller milestones that help your team focus on what they need to do that day, week, and/or month to achieve the goal. Working toward these smaller, more digestible goals will make it more likely that you reach your big goal.
You don't need a long list of goals. Jim Collins believes if you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities, so choose a few and make them count. A few meaningful goals will keep you and your team accountable and will give a sense of purpose. If you want to get big things done, it's important to focus on these top priorities and use these priorities as a measuring stick to determine what is and is not important. Does accepting a new task ladder up to one of these goals? If not, it's probably best to decline it. Stay away from things that distract you from the priority. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. Goals allow you to align daily tasks with a bigger desired outcome. It also helps your employees understand how their contributions connect to the strategic goals of the business.
Keep the goals front and center. Don't file your goals away and dust them off again at annual performance review time. Review them during one-on-one meetings with employees and report on progress often. Many of us create vision boards for personal and professional goals. A vision board can help you imagine what the future will be like and keep it top of mind. Consider creating a vision board with your team then displaying it in a prominent place in your workspace.
Revisit your goals periodically. In this day in age where business moves at the speed of light, and things change rapidly, it's important to consider whether to keep existing goals. Maybe the goals need to be altered or ditched altogether. Perhaps your big goal remains the same, but the shorter-term goals that ladder up to the big one should be modified given changes in your business.
Do not ever speculate about whether you will meet your goals. This is counterproductive and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, remain confident and focus on what you have learned and what you may need to do differently if you encounter a setback.
Of course, goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency. Without it, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome. While I am a proponent for putting a stake in the ground, sometimes goals are so big that they cannot be achieved in the desired timeframe. If you don't hit your target in the desired timeframe, it doesn't mean the goal was unworthy. Nor does it mean you are a failure. Keep at it. If you are driving toward the goal each day, you are on the right track toward achieving the goal. It takes time and patience to achieve great things.
Happy goal setting!