Wow, Look What I Did!

Goal Setting
Image by angietorres via Flickr

It’s that time of year when people set goals. Well, attempt to set goals. I actually don’t find many people who really know how to set actual goals. Usually what I find are people who sit down, write out all the things they want to accomplish during the next year, then put that piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. Long about November, they pull it out, blow the dust off, and comment on how well they did completing three of the fifteen things they wrote down. This is not goal setting people!

Whether you’re a leader or a team member, to truly learn how to do goal setting, you have to understand that it’s not about the “dream” of doing something, it’s about the breakdown of individual tasks that it takes to accomplish the “dream”. I always use the following example in “Dreams, Visions, and Goal Setting” in EntreLeadership: “If we said that we were going to have dinner tonight at 6:30 PM at a specific restaurant, what would need to happen? First, this guy on stage would have to stop talking, then you would get up from your chair, walk over to the door, open the door, walk out to the bus that should have already been set up to take us, get on the bus, sit down, the driver needs to drive to the restaurant, you get up, walk off the bus, walk to the restaurant, open the door, find your seat, sit down, order, the cook cooks it, and the server brings your food.” WHEW!!

Now, that seems overly simplistic, but the truth is, that’s how you need to break down your goals. When you write them down, and then break them down, you can actually see the steps you need to take to complete them. And doing it to this extreme, allows you to see where you’ve fallen behind, are ahead of schedule, missing pieces of the goal, etc.

In that same lesson we say that for goals to work they need to be five things:

  • Specific – not just a lofty idea, what exactly do you want to do?
  • Measurable – how do you know what success looks like?
  • Have a time limit – when should each individual part be accomplished?
  • Must be yours – If not, it’s just a delegated task.
  • Must be in writing – Otherwise it stays a dream that will be forgotten soon.

So, if you’ve already started your process, hopefully this will help you to revisit if you’re missing some of these elements. If you haven’t started yet, then first: find some time to dream, sit down, take out a piece of paper or use your computer, write down the main ideas of what you want to accomplish, then spend time breaking down exactly what needs to happen to accomplish those goals. Put time limits in place of when each thing should be done. Then AT LEAST once a month go back and see where you are. I prefer no more than every two weeks.

I promise, you will do more for your goals than dusting them off in November to see where you are.


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