So here we are early February 2014. If I asked you where you were at in terms of your goals for what you really want to achieve this year, what might your answer be, I wonder? Is your goal setting in place and your goal tracking for 2014 on track?
Would any of these dot-points be true for you:
- For most people, their Newyears resolutions will already have worn off or just died and they have resigned themselves (consciously or unconsciously) to another year of the same old same old. I am already seeing far less morning walkers and joggers in the surrounding parks…
- Some people are still wanting to do “this goals thing”, but are wondering whether they mightn’t have left it too late already.
- A much smaller group has their goals written down and has already had their first “Board Meeting” to measure and monitor their progress.
Which of these groups do you belong to right now?
Is goal setting and goal tracking still worthwhile, or too late?
Whichever group you belong to, I can tell you that it isn’t too late and that it is still worth “having a go”. Why? Because goals and what they get us to achieve isn’t a “once off thing”. It’s dynamic and pliable and flexible and understanding and forgiving. It is also a sure-fire way to be sure that the end of 2014 isn’t just going to come around
Anyway but rather that it will allow you to look back in satisfaction of what you have achieved and not regret about what you missed out on.
The way I see it, it is just a choice.
My two goal setting and goal tracking tips, right now
So, in that context I thought I’d share with you a common theme I have been working through with almost all my clients in these last few weeks.
What we worked through was essentially two things:
a) Being sure to have chosen and set appropriate results goals and activity goals for 2014,
b) Putting the right measuring and monitoring checkpoints in place to assure that they remained on track throughout the year.
If you are interest in finding out why and how we did this, please read on.
Balanced Goals for a Balanced Life?
Most of my clients used the “Wheel of Life” exercise as part of their pre-coaching preparation, whereby they chose 8 attributes which most successful people know to maintain an equilibrium around in order to assure themselves of an appropriate work / life balance. I usually refer them to: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_93.htm where they find a model to populate which can help with this process.
What’s the right number of goals?
My recommendation then is to define and write down just one goal in each category you deem important for you. The work or career related category will obviously have more goals, if you include your work goals or objectives as I recently outlined in my Performance Management Trilogy. There is a whole chapter on goals in my book Life Learnings of a Life Coach or you can read up in detail why and how to manage set goal setting and goal tracking in my Goals Trilogy.
Also, in my blog The Price and the Prize you’ll find some useful insights into why the writing down of goals is so very important. Something happens that aids your commitment to them when you write them down.
How to make goal setting and goal tracking easy and fun
Next I urged my clients to develop a simple one page project plan which outlines all the relevant information in one place. Perhaps a spreadsheet is best for this, but any paper with columns drawn on it will do too.
- a) In the first column list all the goals you set one beneath the other.
- b) Next create 4 columns over the rest of the available space, one for each quarter of the year. It is then advisable to split each quarter into three columns within it to reflect each month. In effect you’ll now have 13 columns, right? I’m sure you will have heard or read many times that the best “short term” horizon for goal setting and goal monitoring is 90 days.
- c) Now just reflect on your goals and recognize that you can’t nor won’t want to do all of them at once, will you? Hence you can sensibly spread them across the 4 quarters and then perhaps in a bit more detail over each month, starting with what you’d consider to be a reasonable end date by which you’d have wanted to have reached each one. Your needs and wants might influence your prioritization. The estimated duration might give you a start date and so you can just draw a simple line joining start to finish.
- d) With a bit of fine-tuning and realizing dependencies and other influences in your life and work that might have a bearing on those broad timings you can get them all to a state of being realistic, but still offer the “spice of a bit of stretch”. If it looks too tough, then remove one or two goals you think are dispensable.Seeing them realistically spread over the year adds confidence that this can all be achieved.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built brick by brick. I’d rather you had less goals on the sheet but you were comfortable that they were achievable than you try and do too much to start with and thereby set yourself up for failure. If you realize at Easter that you are doing great, you can always add back one or two. Conversely, if at Easter you see this is not realistic, you can still also jettison exaggerated goals at that time. That way you’ll keep yourself on track to maybe reach fewer goals but nonetheless reach those and you’ll look back with pride and satisfaction on rather than in regret.
Inch by inch it’s a synch
That’s as tough as it gets folks. You might want to develop some Milestones
that you know will be solid indicators of what’s required to keep you on track with them. You can also read a bit more about this in the blog KPI’s
Want a simple tip to keep you on track?
My only final pointer is that you will want to instill some discipline into the process so that you have a “Board meeting” once a month to sit down to checkpoint and reflect on your progress so you can keep fine-tuning what needs to be done each week and each month and thereby avoid the most common factor that thwarts reaching goals – slippage – which if kept unchecked, in turn usually leads to abandoning them altogether. Having a third party hold you accountable to do these simple check pointing steps works a treat, I can assure you. It doesn’t have to be but I know that if you use a coach, you won’t be disappointed.
So why not…?
So why not have a(nother) go and be sure to look back on 2014 with pride and satisfaction, OK?