“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential” Steve Garvey.
I have no doubt that every other Instagram post, LinkedIn article, blog and magazine you scan as you welcome in 2019 will be about setting new goals, embracing new possibilities and welcoming change. So, why am I adding to the “new year, new goals” noise?
I think setting goals is hugely important both in our work life, but also in our wider life. This has become particularly apparent to me since I started working for myself. Why? Because with no-one else to be accountable to, I quickly realised that I would have to find a way to keep myself accountable. Setting ambitious goals has been, and continues to be, my way of doing this. By investing the time to really think about not only what I want to achieve, but how I am actually going to achieve it, and who and/or what I might need to help me get there, I create a personal vested interest in really going for it. It also gives me a concrete, well thought-through goal that I can use to visualise to help me get there. After all, there is much research that supports the view that having a tangible vision that you are invested in can be hugely powerful in actually helping you achieve that goal - as you create your goal, asking yourself questions such as “what will be different when I get my goal - what will I see, hear and feel” really help you bring that goal to life.
So, how do I set my goals? It’s pretty simple - I ask myself the following questions. If I get to the end and realise I’ve been too ambitious…. or not ambitious enough, I go through them again and re-frame my thinking until I get to something that I am happy is at that “almost out of reach” point, then I know I have cracked it! Have a go at my top questions for successful goal-setting below (there is no rocket science to them - they are mostly classic who, what, where, when, why questions - the power is in the thinking they provoke):
- OK, let’s get this started. What is your goal?
- Give me some more detail. (a) what do you actually want? (b) where do you want it and who would it be with?
- Let’s think about keeping on track. (a) by when do you want to achieve this? (b) how will you know if I am on track to achieve this outcome? (c) how would you know if you were going off course, what’s out there that might trip you up?
- Now let’s visualise what it will feel like when you achieve this goal - what will you see, hear, feel, say?
- So, what will it take to make this happen? What skills and other resources do you already have in your toolkit to help me? What else might you need?
- Finally, we all need a helping hand. Who do you need to help you and what do you need them to do?
- Now the important part, make yourself accountable - what 3 things will you commit to doing in the next month to start to make this goal happen?
Well done - you’ve started to create a meaningful goal. Don’t forget to look at what you have written with a critical eye and decide if you have challenged yourself enough / too much…. Or if you have not stretched yourself enough. If any of these apply, go back and give it another go.
What I have realised as I really started to take my goal setting seriously, is that when I was in my “corporate job” I was pretty bad at goal setting. I would rely on the annual review process to guide me through what I thought I should be achieving - it was almost as if someone else was going to take control or ultimately tell me what I should do, like I was a passenger on the corporate career ladder. This is never going to be a successful path to finding “your true talent and potential”. So, if this rings some bells for you, why don’t you take control and kick off 2019 thinking about what you would like to achieve, in work and in life, this year, rather than focusing on what you think you should be achieving based on someone else’s goals or perceptions of what you can achieve. Use my questions to get really clear about how you will make those goals happen - it takes a bit of work, but I’m sure your 2019 you will thank you for it - who knows what you might achieve.
Happy New Year.