Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely.
Effort on my team is down compared to last year, and a big reason is the lack of smart goal setting. It’s ironic that I created the Smart Goals app as a side project 4 years ago to help people set better goals, but it's the exact thing that now we are missing on my team. Specifically, we are missing the tough questions that come along with making the goals relevant and attainable. The goals that are set seem optional. Yes, they are specific and measurable and timely, but it just doesn't seem like anyone is fighting to hit the goals, or working harder or coming up with better plans to hit the goals. I want my team to focus on asking these questions when setting their goals:
Relevant - Why is the goal important to you?
Why is this goal important to you?
Does this small goal align with hitting your big goal?
Will you be disappointed if you don’t hit this goal? Why?
Is the goal something worth fighting for if you experience challenges or setbacks along the way?
Why are you motivated to hit this goal?
Attainable - What is going to be different this week?
Does your plan align with the goal? Do you have a back up plan?
What is going to be different this week, based on you not hitting your goal last week? Is it skill, or effort, or both?
If it’s effort, are you putting in more hours, and a how will you hold yourself accountable?
If it’s skill, what adjustments are you making? How can I help you?
What did you learn from last week missing your goal?
Or… you hit your goal last week, why, and how are you going to make sure to hit it again? (Do you want to increase your goal this week?)
Do you believe you are going to hit your goal this week?
"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving your goals." - Thoreau
Let Your Goals Drive You, Not Destroy You
I’ve had multiple conversations recently with my employees about how their goals are causing them to feel bad. They feel stressed when they feel like they aren’t reaching their goals. They feel guilt because they feel like they could be doing more. They feel distracted by their goals when they should be focused on other things. They feel so much anxiety about their goals that they have nightmares about them (literally).
What are goals supposed to do? They are supposed to give you direction, something to work towards. They are supposed to motivate you and push you to accomplish big things, or challenging things. They are supposed to be that big picture reminder as you’re going through the small picture struggles, or the “grind.” Goals should be a very positive thing.
If you are letting your goals bring you down instead of push you forward, you are missing the point. If you set a goal and don’t hit it, you don’t need to stress. You should ask yourself if you really did all you could to accomplish it, and if you did, then there is no need to stress. Did you learn something from not reaching your goals? If so, then don’t be stressed. Instead, learn, adjust, and try again. If you feel guilty about your goals because you feel like you can do more, then either do something about it and put in more work towards you goal, or come up with a better plan. Often times, if you just replaced the time spent sitting and thinking and feeling guilty about your goals with action, you’d immediately feel better about it. If you are feeling distracted by your goals, remember, who controls your thoughts? Do you have control over your thoughts, or do your thoughts control you? And lastly, do you feel a little anxiety about your goal? Then good! It means its important, and you care! If you feel a lot of anxiety about your goals, then stop worrying about them. Don’t visualize failing, or the work you’ll have to put in, or whatever it is you fear, and instead visualize accomplishing the goal. Think about how you will feel when you accomplish it.
It is very important that you learn how to get rid of any negative emotions caused by goals, and replace them with action, drive, and perseverance. Remember what your goals are for.