Goal setting is the process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the result you desire. For entrepreneurs, goal setting is an important part of business planning.
This goal setting definition emphasizes that goal setting is a five part process. For effective goal setting, you need to do more than just decide what you want to do; you also have to work at accomplishing whatever goal you have set for yourself - which means you have to create a plan so your work gets you where you want to go.
For many people, it's the third part of the goal setting definition that's problematic. They know what they want to do and they're perfectly willing to work on it but they have trouble creating a plan to get there.
The undirected effort might help you accomplish what you want to do if by some fluke you do the right thing at the right time. Usually, it doesn't. And then, because you're not getting any results, you quit working at whatever it is and give up on whatever goal you've set.
So for successful goal setting, the first thing you have to do is close the gap between the end result you want and where you are now with a plan.
About the Topic
Goal setting is everywhere in our world. We set goals for our careers, our health, and our lives in general. It seems modern society is always encouraging us to think about the next milestone. However, what we don't think about enough is the science and strategy of how to accomplish your goals.
If you want to do something wonderful, the first step is to decide what that something will be. Goal setting is probably the most significant factor in improving performance in nearly every area of life. Goals are not only great motivators; they provide a focus for your efforts and help you make decisions along the way.
When we set a goal we are actually stating how we would like to improve the world – specifically some aspect of it that we can control. So we can express the goal as a description of the improved situation. How would you like to change your world?
Start with the long-term view: what do you really want to achieve in your lifetime? Many people find this difficult: after all, it could be a long time, with many possibilities and opportunities. So put it another way: what would you really regret not having done or achieved in your lifetime?
Think about what you could aim for in different areas of your life:
Education and personal development
Hobbies and personal interests (art, music, intellectual pursuits, community, sports and fitness, etc)
Peer group: career, social and neighborhood
Whatever goals you can think of in each area, write them down – or put them straight into Goalscape!
Make sure your goals are SMART. They must be:
What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you'll get exactly that. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between 'I want to be a millionaire' and 'I want to make €50.000 a month for the next ten years by creating a new software product'.
Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:
What exactly do I want to achieve?
What are the conditions and limitations?
Why exactly do I want to reach this goal? What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same?
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You'll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.
Is your goal attainable? That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don't have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you'll certainly fail and be miserable. That doesn't mean that you can't take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
There's nothing wrong with shooting for the stars; if you aim to make your department twice as efficient this year as it was last year with no extra labour involved, how bad is it when you only reach 1,8 times? Not too bad...
Is reaching your goal relevant to you? Do you actually want to run a multinational, be famous, have three children and a busy job? You decide for yourself whether you have the personality for it, or your team has the bandwidth.
If you're lacking certain skills, you can plan trainings. If you lack certain resources, you can look for ways of getting them.
The main questions, why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
You could think that having a bigger team will make it perform better, but will it really?
Time is money! Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a hellish race against time – which is most likely not how you want to achieve anything.
Once you have collected all the goals you can think of, review them: narrow down your list and start to set priorities for those that remain. Consider what you have already achieved and how you did it; and where you have failed and why. What does this tell you about your strengths? Where might you need to develop and learn new skills? Answering these questions will provide clues as to which goals are within your reach.
Play to your strengths in terms of your talents and skills; yet look for ways to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. Make sure you choose your own goals: those that are in line with your own personal values, rather than merely reflecting the expectations or wishes of others (parents, teachers or peer group). Do however share your goals with those close to you, especially where they are involved in a particular area – eg your partner, your boss and colleagues (for work goals), team members and coach (for sports goals) – and take their wishes and opinions into account.
Keep breaking down your big goals into smaller subgoals. Set their relative importances according to the contribution they make to their parent goal.
Always be prepared to add or change some of your goals and their relative importance. Set specific targets in the lowest level goals, decide how to measure your progress and enter it into your plan as you go. Checking off completed tasks and seeing your progress advance will make you feel really good! Celebrate your major achievements with everyone who helped you.