Goal Digging Part II: What's in a Goal?
So, last week we talked about the importance of goal setting, and hopefully, that helped put you in the right track of mind as far as what goals you are planning on setting for the upcoming year- (if you didn’t catch last week’s post, scroll down and give it a read). The main thing I would like to get into today is what makes a good goal. Once you have taken some time to explore the kind of goals you need to set, the next step is making sure the goals you set will work, and for this, they will need to be objective. When something is objective, it means that it is not influenced by feelings or opinions, but represented by facts. In order for you to set successful goals, you’ll need to make sure your goals can be measured by fact, not feelings. In my last post, I gave an example of a goal to accomplish the first x-number of credits for a degree- let’s say 12. That can be measured. At the end of the year, you won’t be able to say “ I feel like I did really well on that” but you will know by fact: I made it, or I didn’t. You may wonder why I beat down on this so much. Here’s why: objectivity is a way to win a war against ourselves. You see, in general we tend to be too lenient with ourselves when it comes to goals. We tend to bring feelings into it and give ourselves a break when we know we have a lot going on. In this sense, we can all be our own enemies- we baby ourselves. Setting objective goals and putting them down on paper takes our feelings out of it. We are now no longer “bargaining” with ourselves, we are challenge ourselves to rise up to a standard. Great leadership begins with being able to do this. Because, after all, if we can’t do this for ourselves, how can we do this for our teams? This week, I encourage you to take a few minutes to put each one of your goals to the test, and adjust them if you need to. Then, I recommend writing them down, and placing your list somewhere you will see it everyday, to keep you on track.
Do your goals measure up?
Do they have a deadline?
A goal without a deadline is not a goal- it’s wishful thinking! Make sure you set a time frame for when your goals need to be complete. Remember, we are trying to win a war against ourselves- without a set time frame we leave room to procrastinate, and the entire year may go by without progress
Is there a way to recognize success?
Our goals should be specific and measurable so that we know when to recognize our victories. Try to avoid being overly broad or vague, saying things like “this year I’ll watch less TV”- make sure there is a way to measure how close or far you are so that you know if you need to buckle down and give yourself a pep-talk. If your goal is more like the completion of a project, make sure you take time to envision everything that you want that project to be. Before starting my blog, I made a long list of things I wanted to incorporate into it, some of which are still not done, but are part of my goals for 2016.
Are they realistic?
Goal setting is not the time to day-dream, we want to be honest with ourselves and recognize our limitations. If we set unrealistic goals, we are only setting ourselves up to fail, and who needs another failure? Make sure all of the goals you are setting are consistent with the place you are in your life right now. If they are not, make a stepping-stone goal- a goal that gets you a little closer to where you need to be in order to tackle the real goal. If, for example, your goal involves opening a business, which may mean the need for a lot of capital, and you don’t have it yet, make your stepping-stone goal to start acquiring the capital. Whenever I want to double check if a goal is realistic, I think of all the steps it would take to accomplish that goal- if all of those things can be done within the year, it becomes one of my yearly goals, if it can’t, then I chose one of the steps I’ve thought of instead.
Are they within your control?
A goal, by definition, is something we can accomplish. This is what separates it from a wish. We may wish that certain situations change in our family, or that our crush asks us out on a date, but we should definitely not make those things goals. We should avoid making goals out of things that require other people to change their mind, or do something out of the ordinary. Unless you have made an agreement with that person to do something together, remember you can not control anyone but you. So, make sure your goals are things you have the power to accomplish, even if the rest of the world stays exactly as it is- these are your goals.
Phew. Tired yet? So far we have had two very important things to do: 1. Sit and think about our life goals, and use them to begin forming an idea of how our yearly goals will look this year; and 2. Make sure that the goals we are forming are objective and attainable. Next week, we’ll get to my favorite part- using our planners, notebooks, binders -and all the nerdy things you love if you're anything like me - for something other than a cute decoration for our desk! knowing how to use them can play a big part in accomplishing our goals- so, let’s keep digging!