We all love setting SMART goals;
“I’ll double my venture’s revenue this quarter.”
“I’ll run a marathon… Next spring.”
“I’ll start my next business this year.”
Goals hold promise, a dream of an ideal self, but rarely are they actually achieved. A whopping 92% of people who set goals for the New Year never achieve them.
What sets that 8% apart from the pack? Are they smarter? More determined? Is it the sheer force of will?
We don’t have all the answers, but we have a few of them. Setting the right goals has a lot to do with if you’ll achieve them.
Fuel Your Goals with Passion
You might be read the above and say “duh,” but you’d be surprised. How many of us set fitness goals, only to be disappointed when we don’t achieve them?
Chances are, you weren’t passionate about early morning runs or increasing reps. But, if you want to get something done, you have to care about it. Those who are passionate about their goal are more likely to achieve it because they’re willing to do “whatever it takes” for something they care about.
Next time you consider a personal or professional goal, start with a gut check. Is this what you really want? Is there enough desire there to drive you past the finish line? Is it worth it?
If the answer is yes, then you probably have the passion necessary to reach your goal.
This mnemonic device has been around for some time, and that’s because it works. Ever wrap up a meeting with a bunch of action points, just to have it fall apart by the next check-in?
When we don’t set SMART goals, we don’t have the elements in place to reach our goals. Setting SMART goals means asking:
Specific- What will be accomplished by the end of the goal? What action do you need to take?
Ex: Close more sales vs. Close 20 more sales this quarter.
Measurable- How can this goal be measured? Can you use data?
Ex: Increase productivity vs. Increase productivity by 10%.
Attainable- Are you setting yourself up to fail? Do you have the necessary resources on hand to complete the task?
Ex: Closing $1 million in sales in year one vs. $250,000.
Relevant- Does the goal you’re setting have to do with the workplace? How could the results be important to your company?
Ex: Getting in better shape vs. boosting office morale with a redesign
Trackable- Do you have a timeframe in mind for the goal?
Ex: Achieving the goal in six months vs. whenever I get around to it
As your team sets personal or company-wide goals, you should analyze them under the SMART umbrella. It makes goals easier to track, obtain, and achieve. Read how to handle a Hybrid Team.
Rudders and Oars
James Clear, author of New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits talks about the metaphor of rudders and oars when creating goals.
Imagine a rowboat. A goal is the rudder of the rowboat, setting direction. The oars are the process by which you complete the goal. Without process, your boat won’t move, even if the rudder stays steadfast.
On the other hand, you can row all day, but if you keep moving the rudder, you’ll find yourself moving in a circle. You need both to reach your destination.
If the goal is to grow your business to $1 million in sales, the process is the daily sales and marketing practices. Or, if you want to double your team, the process is the daily job interviews and recruitment efforts.
With a clear process, you can get where you need to go.
Yes, goals are about achievable metrics and trackable milestones but don’t forget to embrace optimism. Studies show that the more hopeful a person is about their goal, the more likely they are to achieve it.
Goals should be challenging, but if you feel hopeless as you face it, you’ll be less likely to follow through. Embracing optimism means acknowledging these thoughts, and working to change them:
- It’s my fault everything’s going wrong. Pessimists are more likely to wallow and blame themselves for circumstances that may be out of their hands. However, optimists are more likely to consider external factors and how they play into our efforts.
- Things are bad right now, so they’ll continue to be bad. When things go wrong, pessimists are quick to forget that bad times are temporary. Things might be bad now, but they can change, thinks the optimist.
- I failed at that, so I’m going to fail at everything. Messing up one goal or task doesn’t mean you have no talent or will screw up everything you try. Optimists are willing to admit they can’t be perfect at everything.
Looking on the bright side won’t just make your days sunnier, it’s also more likely that you’ll reach your goal.
Goal setting isn’t just saying you’ll do something, then doing it. If that were the case, 92% of us wouldn’t have failed. The reality is, many of us set ourselves up to fail with weak, untrackable, and unattainable goals.
Instead, try letting your mind wander. Forget about the internal pessimist, and dream up a goal that aligns with your values, needs, and growth. Starting with that passion, you can establish the goal using a SMART system while keeping the optimist alive in you. With hard work and a well thought out goal, you’d be surprised what you can achieve.