“There’s two buttons I never like to hit: that’s panic and snooze,” said fictional philosopher/soccer coach Ted Lasso.
That’s how it goes with annual goals. Hit “Snooze” repeatedly, until May when you’ll hit “Panic.” Lots of time and energy is wasted in ”Panic” until eventually, you give up and hit the “Eject” button around October. If, as The Handbook of Health Behavior Change reports, “25% of people abandon their resolutions after one week, 60% abandon them within six months, and the average person makes the same New Year’s resolution ten separate times without success,” why even make the attempt?
The time-honored SMART Approach (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) is only the first step in setting the stage to achieve your goals. Achieving your goals (and those of the people you manage) can be easier by following this deceptively simple process to record and review your allies, obstacles, rewards, and fears.
Achieving your goals (and those of the people you manage) can be easier by following this deceptively simple process to record and review your allies, obstacles, rewards, and fears.
Below is an exercise that will help you to tune up goals you may have already set. As you enter February (not to mention March, April, etc.), ask yourself the following questions for each goal and write down the answers (there will be more on the criticality of writing it down)
No one is an island. Even if you are an office of one, you have allies in achieving a goal. Accountability is essential to success. According to Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California, 40% of a control group (subjects that only thought about their goal) succeeded in achieving it. Those that shared weekly progress with a specific person had a 76% attainment rate. Sharing your progress allows for accountability, transparency, for the introduction of diverse perspectives and for a shared destiny. Peer groups, colleagues, mentors can all dramatically increase your chance of success.
Brainstorm with your team and name the obstacles to achieving success. Do your best to name any and all likely impediments to success. This may also highlight if a goal is, in fact, achievable. Identifying expected roadblocks leads to fewer surprises which leads to planned work arounds, saving time and resources. Circumstances will change throughout the year; don’t abandon the goal. Revisit the obstacle list throughout the year if you are falling short: what new obstacle may cause you to course correct?
Distraction is one of the greatest enemies of goal achievement. Being able to say “not now” to daily priorities in order to have a crystal-clear vision of the payoff at the end. When answering this question, don’t stop at something like “The payoff is $200,000 in new business.” More money in and of itself doesn’t inspire. Dig deep into the emotion. Ask yourself:
Make it real. Visualize what it would look like and feel like to achieve this goal. Review this vision periodically and remind yourself when your daily tasks start to eclipse the goal and be the excuse for not achieving.
What has prevented you from achieving this goal in the past? What environment, systems, people, process, or temptations have prevented you from achieving this goal before? This is the real meat of goal setting. Face the potentially unpleasant fact that something you have control over what is getting in the way of what you want. I urge you to go deep. Often the CEOs I work with find that their own need to control, shortfalls in holding people accountable, inability to prioritize, or fear of being wrong or rejected is what is continuously holding them back. Once they let go of those fears, goal achievement flows almost effortlessly.
The writing part can dramatically increase your chances for success for social and even psychological reasons. By periodically reviewing goals and sharing them with others, according to the Matthews study, you are 62% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down and sharing them with a friend. Goal setting has been proved to give a boost to our Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) which makes us act.1 Granot, Stern, & Balcetis, 2017 When the goal is particularly difficult, the SBP gets an extra boost that feeds our zeal to get to work.
An article in Positive Psychology argues “The RAS is a cluster of cells located at the base of the brain that processes all the information and sensory channels related to the things that need our attention right now.” The RAS is activated when we talk about and review our goals.
Just like you see more green Teslas out on the road the minute you contemplate buying a green Tesla, you will see more opportunities and ways to accomplish your goals the more you refer back to the goals themselves, review the obstacles, allow your allies to hold you accountable, and envision the rewards. Not only that, but it will strengthen your resolve for growth and help you conquer those pesky self-limitations that we all suffer from.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
©2022. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM. This article is subject to the disclaimers found here.
Francine’s superpower has always been asking insightful and thoughtful questions that inspire personal growth. Her mission, as Chair and leader of Vistage groups (an unbiased, agenda-free group of non-competing corporate peers) in the Chicagoland area, is to spread the message that paradoxically, you are at your strongest when vulnerable and accountable for change. The blueprint…
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