We all know that setting goals is the first step to achieving them. So why do we hate to do it? Because we might fail. Or worse yet, we don't know what we ultimately want so that we may get started - even more frustrating. In order to plan for tomorrow, neat year, 5 years or 10 years from now you need a strategy to keep you on course. A plan will have goals. And the goals should stretch you, invigorate you and drive home your purpose. Studies support a linear relationship between the difficulty of a goal and performance. As a goal becomes harder to attain, performance increases, providing the goal is SMART.
1. First Make Your Goals SMART
Understand the principals of SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. These goals are so concrete you can't mistake them. Often we don't set SMART goals but if you understand the acronym SMART and follow it you have a blueprint for success. For example, a SMART goal would not be, "I am going to quit work and start my own business." A SMART goal would be, "I am going to define my values and strengths today to help focus my area of interest. By Friday I will define my niche market by analyzing 20 business Web sites of competitors in various niches."
2. Back Into Your Goals
Back into your goals to execute them. By that I mean if you are stuck on what to do first - think of what you would have done last. Ask yourself if you had already achieved the goal, "What would I have been doing just before that point?" Write down exactly what happened the week before you achieved this goal. What were you working on? Write down what you were doing one month before. Three months before. This is your plan of action. Make it concrete with specific steps that follow the SMART standard.
3. Set Heartfelt Goals
The goals that you are working on should serve the greater good and not just you or your team. The steps you are taking will serve you and your team automatically when they make the world a better place, rock someone else's world or blow the roof off someone's expectations. Goals that are financially based with disregard for the greater human good will only serve a short term strategy. They are not long term solution. Companies such as Zappos and Google are focused on the customer experience. Yet their profits are soaring. Entice people to push through limitations for a purpose.
4. Make Your Goals Vibrant
Sticking to the exercise of setting and modifying goals is arduous, tedious and hardly fun unless you are energized by the feeling you will have with the results. Include imagery in your goals not only to inspire your team but so that you may foresee any challenges that may arise along the way. Tell a story. Ask your team to describe a scenario of what it will be like when this goal is reached. Who will be doing what? What will it feel like? Who else will be affected? What will it sound like? Smell like? Taste like?
As a leader, you are the one to take charge of this process. You hold yourself and your team accountable. It is hard to be accountable if the metric for success is not concrete. Following these four simple rules will set you on a course to fulfillment. Start now!
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Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com - Transforming People and Organizations with Goals-to-Results. With more than 16 years of experience as a CEO of organizations with up to $26 million in assets, Mary Lee coaches individuals and organizations with a Goals-Accountability-Results system. Read testimonials from her clients. She is a graduate of The Duquesne University Professional Coaching Program and an alumnus of the 2010 Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in Medicine & Leadership Conference. Her personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother with four children under seven-years-old who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where she rose to the level of CEO to support her family. Areas of Specialty: Strategic Planning / Board Development / Executive Coaching / Healthcare / Public Relations / Meeting Facilitation / Leadership / Productivity / Life/Career Transition. Her book "Starting Over - 25 Rules for When You've Bottomed Out" is available in bookstores and from online booksellers.
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