By now, many of us have failed miserably in our New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, New Year’s resolutions are usually personal such as losing weight or going on a budget. But New Year’s Resolutions are just setting goals, which we do as individuals and as companies every day.
At the John Maxwell Company, he talks about “big dreams.” In Maxwell’s leadership blog, “Great Words on Goal Setting,” he suggests that you break your big dreams up into small goals, measurable steps, and set deadlines
But setting goals is more nuanced than you might think. Goals not only are ways to achieve success, as these motivational quotes from leaders suggest. They are part of a journey which, according to some, is as important as the goal.
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
~Henry David Thoreau
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.
To understand how to set goals, the Holden Leadership Center of the University of Oregon, provides a three-prong approach:
- Purpose or mission which is a broad statement.
- Goals are what your organization wants to accomplish.
- Objectives are how your organization will achieve your goals.
To achieve your organizational goals, buy in from your staff or managers is most important. The Holden Center suggests you set the goals as a group, taking into account everyone’s opinion. Have a brainstorming session, then prioritize them. Once you have determined the objectives of each goal, create an action plan to implement them. Most important, set deadlines.
Goal setting is an important strategy.
Ray Silverstein in Entrepreneur writes that goal setting is the best way to achieve “bottom-line results.” “Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more likely to achieve them.” In business school, the following mantra is often drilled into the students: What gets monitored, gets done!
Silverstein’s approach is the SMART System. SMART stands for:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A : Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Timely
He warns against “BHAG” or big, hairy, audacious goals which he says are fine for long-term planning, don’t work well with goal setting. Focus, he adds, on goals that can be reach within a year. At a business or organization, leadership will play a vital role in setting goals.
Moe Glenner, a leadership guru in Florida, offers three keys to better leadership success. People — are you connecting with the people in your company? Place — do people know what is expected of them?
The third key is, Thing — which is the goal you want to accomplish. “How clearly defined is it? How will you facilitate, manage and communicate it to your team, to your executive team and to the ultimate customers?
Glenner said better leaders clearly articulate goals and scopes. “Aiming for a poorly articulated and/or fuzzy goal or without clear parameters is a planning failure which will likely lead to a much larger failure, including most importantly, a failure in leadership. Don’t fail – set and clearly articulate goals and realistic parameters.”
I’ve run two newspapers companies, one as a CEO and one as owner. Achievable or attainable are very important factors in setting goals. Whether you are creating a strategic plan or short-term goals for the first quarter of the year, make sure you or your staff have the resources to achieve them. Too many strategic plans sit gathering dust on bookcases because the intentions were honorable, but the staff did not have the wherewithal to achieve them.
Even personal goals can be undermined if the person does not have the resources to achieve them.
Goal setting experts may use different words and terms, but they coalesce around similar concepts:
- Clearly articulated or specific goals
- Realistic and achievable.
- Measurable analytics
There really is no difference between John Maxwell’s big dreams approach or Moe Glenner’s clearly, articulated goal methodology. They both require you to set specific goals, regardless of whether they are smaller targets of a larger overarching outline or clearly identified goals in and of themselves.
If you ever attend a Zig Ziglar seminar, there is one more step to goal setting that will be emphasized. Start. Begin. Don’t procrastinate. Whether it is starting a diet, creating new second-quarter sales goals or developing a 3-year strategic plan, begin today, not next week. Don’t procrastinate.