How do you make sure that the goals that you, your team or organisation set can actually be realised?
Over the New Years Break I was interviewed on radio in several cities to discuss this idea – or in its seasonal form, “how to stop New Years Resolutions becoming New Years regrets?”
I shared these 10 key steps and checks that you can filter your goal through, to guarantee a much higher strike rate of success. They are drawn from working with key executives and leadership teams and apply regardless of the goal that you are setting.
Check this list of 10 out and see how your goals stack up:
1: Are they positively stated? When your goal is to become or achieve something, you allow your attention to be drawn forward to the possibility. If your goal is to stop or avoid something, you are focusing on what you don’t want. When you learn to ride motorbikes, they teach you to not look at obstacles (as you will hit them), instead you are taught look at the path through the obstacles and to the outcome. “I want to stop getting frustrated at the VP”, or “we want to block our competitors success” are examples of where your goal can be reframed into positive language [ try “I want to be more tolerant of the VP’s ideas”, or ” we want to be the most trusted and admired brand even with competition ” – see what a difference that makes?]. This change in focus and attention leads to solve the right problems and focus on the right elements in achieving your goal.
2: Do you have the correct motivation? Too often we set goals for ourselves because it is what others want, such as our partners, advisors, loved ones etc. When a person sets of a goal to ‘drink less’ because their partner wants them to, it is a recipe for failure. Unless there is something in it for you, then the goal is not very motivating. To empower your motivation ( or the motivation of the team, the organisation, etc), reframe the goal in terms of its benefits to those who have to achieve it and the goal will become motivating and possible.
3: Does it have leverage? Leverage is the engine that drives goal achievement. What drives you to want to achieve the goal? When someone wants to be smoke free (have given up cigarettes), their leverage could be their kids, money, health, career, relationship, etc – everyone has a different reason, and speaking through the wrong leverage does not drive people to achieve their goals. With work situations, the leverage may be exposure, competence, connection, significance, career advancement, a bonus, bragging rights, admiration…the list is nearly endless. For a goal to be achieved, knowing the leverage that matters, and leveraging it, is a powerful way to drive goal achievement.
4: Do you have the skills and strategies to achieve it? . I may want to play in a rock and roll band, but if I cannot play the guitar, I simply don’t have the skills required to achieve my goal. Checking to make sure that I have the required skills (or the strategies to acquire them), as well as having the strategies to execute to complete the goal, ensures that I will not be left strumming a tennis racquet and singing into a hairbrush. In a workplace scenario, we can set goals for ourselves and others and not check if the skills and strategies are present. Coaching and mentoring are obvious fast tracks to dealing with skills and strategy gaps.
5: Can you overcome the obstacles? On he way to our goal, there are obstacles that we can plan for. Too often, individuals and teams set ambitious goals only to be tripped up by an obstacle that could have easily been avoided. Imagine if you were trying to lose weight at Christmas time, and you had put no thought into how you would deal with the work and family Christmas functions, the food and alcohol, etc. taking the time to define the potential obstacles, and creating a path around them by deciding what you would do in advance, or how you would act to remove that obstacle, can be really useful in goal achievement. In the workplace, knowing which committees get involved, where the politics might be, where budgets can be accessed etc. are all potential obstacles that you can prepare for, and act to ensure your path to your goal does not run into a dead end.
6: Who is in your team? ( and who are the saboteurs?). Ensuring we have the right people around us, and helping us, can be critical. I bet you have seen someone offer a cigarette to someone quitting smoking, or seen a ‘just one cake won’t hurt your diet’ offer from a ‘friend’. Ensuring that the people we invite on our journey add value, either as accountability partners (hold us to account) or cheer squad members can make a massive difference. In the corporate world, others may gain by you missing your goal. Best to identify these players early and keep them ( and their opinions) at appropriate distance.
7: Are the right resources available? Testing that the resources that we need are present ( and that unhelpful resources are removed) can greatly enhance goal achievement. If you are an executive that wants to spend more quality time with the kids, then removing your iPad/mobile phone and being with the kids at the right times (with books, games etc) will more likely make that happen. For teams, it can be prioritising important goals ( so they get the resources of time, energy and focus) whilst stopping other things.
8: Is the goal realistic? Checking if the goal is SMART is a good way to ensure it is realistic. Is it specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely? Goals which are vague, which are difficult to determine when they have been achieved, cannot be performed, are out of scope for the person or team or cannot be done in the time available will lead to failure in goal achievement. Recognising that goals take time and effort, use skills and strategies and compete against other things means that we can put the goal in context and ensure it is realistic and can be achieved. There is no problem setting ‘stretch goals’ – however, they should not be a stretch too far.
9: Do you accept that you may stumble? Understanding the difference between a lapse and a relapse is critical is goal achievement, especially when the goal is a change in a habit pattern. If someone gives up cigarettes and then 2 weeks later has a ‘social ciggie’ – they can view it as a ‘lapse’ – they have fallen off the path to their goal, but they just accept what has happened, learn from it, and get back on the path where they fell off; or they can see it as a relapse (“I have had a cigarette, I have failed, I may as well go back to 30 a day….) They fell of the path and go right back to the start again. On your path to difficult goals, even if you do foresee many obstacles, you may still ‘trip up’. In this case, see it as a lapse and get right back on track again, having learned from that experience.
10: Do you celebrate? Often when one goal is completed, we simply throw ourselves into the next task. When a team reached its goal, the next, harder goal is introduced. Taking a moment to celebrate is important. Deciding how you will celebrate can be a fantastic motivator for an individual or team to keep pushing for the goal. Stopping, acknowledging, celebrating – all confirms to yourself, your team and those around you that you were successful, that it was worth the effort, and it can build great inner strength for moving onto other challenges in the future.
How do your goals – as an individual, a team or an organisation – stack up after being run through this filter?
Which point was the one that has the biggest impact on enhancing your goal achievement?
Good luck, and best wishes for 2015.