5 Steps for Effective Goal Setting


It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on goal setting so I thought this would be a good time for a refresher.

One of the keys to effective goal setting is ensuring that the goals that you set move you from where you are to where you want to be. This can be where you want to be from a business or career perspective or from a personal perspective. But in order to have the motivation you need to achieve them, they must be relevant. Enthusiasm for a goal will only last so long without relevance.

Once you have identified your relevant goals, follow these steps to give you the best chance at achieving them.

1.       Get very specific about what you want to achieve

The more specific you are about your goals and why you want to achieve them, the better able you are to create a plan on how to get there. This includes the identification of key performance indicators (KPIs). Your KPIs will help you measure success. Think about how you will be able to recognize if you have achieved success or are on the right track for attainment. You should be able to clearly articulate and measure/quantify the KPIs. And they should be crucial to achieving your goal.

2.       Set Priorities

When people sit down to start the goal setting process they often times get over zealous and create a list of 100 things to accomplish in the next year. The problem with this is that while all of the goals may be interesting and intriguing, it’s physically impossible to accomplish that many things.

This is why prioritization is so important. You will find that trying to focus on everything at once just becomes too overwhelming. So, taking the time to prioritize based upon a few goals that will have immediate impact will ensure you have the bandwidth that you need to move closer to your desired state and receive the most reward for your efforts. It all comes down to ROE (Return on Effort).

Prioritizing does not mean that your other goals are less important. You have to understand that. You just have to be realistic in how much you can accomplish at one time. Starting with those goals that will have the biggest impact and celebrating those accomplishments will create momentum.

3.       Write them down

This one is easy and it’s something that all of you already know. Research shows that you are 42% more likely to accomplish a goal if you actually write it down. If you don’t consider yourself a writer please do not freak out over this. This does not have to be print worthy. You will likely not be producing this for public consumption so just get it on paper in whatever format makes it easiest for you. I tend to do everything in bullet points rather than full commentary. If bullet points make you happy, go forth and bullet away. If complete sentences and full blown prose is what makes you giddy, then please use that style. The point is to just have a formal record.

4.       Keep goals small/operational/achievable/incremental

Here’s a trick I like to share with people when creating goals. There is no rule that you have to do your goal setting for a 1 – 3 – 5 year period. Only setting goals in yearly intervals can feel discouraging some times because you have to wait so long to see results. One way to avoid that feeling of discouragement is to break those goals into small, achievable, and incremental milestones. Setting achievable incremental goals (I’m making $2k/month by July. Then my new goal is that I’m making $5k/month by December. Then my new goal is that I’m making $10k/month by next July.) keeps the momentum going. Doing it this way may feel like you are playing small, but it’s not. It’s a great way to demonstrate progress and to keep your encouraged in the journey.

5.       Set performance goals, not outcomes

Quite simply this means to make sure your goals are based on things that are 100% in your control. For instance, “I will have 10 new clients by August” is more of an outcome goal. And it’s definitely not 100% in your control because it’s in your prospects’ control. However, stating “I will initiate 150 conversations by August” is in your control. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to write your goals this way. It just takes practice but once you master it, your goals will be more achievable because they will be in your control.

Please keep in mind that these steps are associated with effective goal setting not effective goal achievement. That is a whole other post. But you can’t achieve them if you haven’t set them first. Following these steps will help set you up for success.


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