he end of 2001 approaches and I want to set you a challenge. I want you to set yourself one major goal for next year – and I want you to do it now – not on New Year’s Eve.
Too hard? Amazon.com lists 113 books on the subject of ‘goal setting’,How To Make New Year’s Resolutions That Work Articles so it must be complicated, mustn’t it? The truth is, it’s actually very simple.
We all know how to achieve goals. We have known since we were at secondary school and received our first assignment, sat our first exam or competed in our first sporting event. As we became adults and got our first job, we started achieving goals on a regular basis – writing reports, making patients well, designing or building things, completing projects. We achieved goals when we organised parties, weddings, Christmas dinners.
So why do we find ourselves setting the same ‘big’ goals – getting fit, losing weight, getting organised, finding a new job – year after year? Because when it comes to these goals we break all the rules that we intuitively apply to the smaller goals in our everyday lives. In particular, we tend to be far too ‘fuzzy’ when it comes to defining our goals in the first place.
A common framework for defining goals is the ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ approach. This approach has been widely used for some time, with variations. It is simple and easy to apply, which is why I like it.
‘S’ stands for SPECIFIC. This is the first hurdle at which we often fall. Day-to-day goals are usually implicitly specific: ‘provide Christmas dinner for the family’, ‘provide report to client’. ‘Big’ goals are often non- specific: ‘get fit’, ‘grow my business’. A personal goal of mine is to participate in the 7-day cross-country ‘Great Victorian Bike Ride’. This is a more specific version of ‘get fit’, because I know that I have to be fit to achieve it.
MEASURABLE is a particularly important aspect of successful ‘big’ goals. Not only do we need to be able to measure the final result, we also need to be able to set intermediate goals and measure our progress. If a business goal is to ‘double turnover to $1 million in 12 months’, monthly targets can be set over the 12-month period, which step up to that level. While riding in the Bike Ride can be measured simply on a scale of ‘done or not done’, actually achieving it will require the capability to ride about 100 km per day for a few days in a row. Now I have something to plot my progress against.
ACCEPTABLE brings your personal and/or business values into the equation. Your goal must be, first and foremost, YOUR goal – not something you are trying to achieve under duress or on someone else’s behalf. Further, your goal, and the resources (including time and money) required to achieve it, must fit within your overall life situation and values. For example, your commitment to family/work balance will often determine how many hours you can put into your business.