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Moving from Goal Setting to Achieving Goals

Rick Mayfield
Posted by Rick Mayfield on Feb 7, 2022 11:55:01 AM

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? As we are officially one month into 2022, you may be finding that some of those big hairy audacious goals (BHAGS) that you set for this year may have been too big and too audacious. Or you may be happily checking the “completed” box on your goal chart one after the other, feeling the momentum grow with each checkmark.

Statistically, for many of us, the goal-setting session at the beginning of the year will be the last time we look at our goals until one day in late December when it is time to begin thinking about next year’s list. Although we approach this ritual every year with the utmost enthusiasm that we will accomplish what we set out to do, we have all been guilty of the phrase; “set, forget, repeat!”

There are hundreds of books and articles published each year on the art and science of goal achievement. I would like to share a few tried and true tips that have proven effective without leaving you feeling like you have already run the marathon that may have been number one on your list!

1. Have a strong enough "why" for your goals.

There are basic goals that you hear over and over, like “we want to increase sales” or “we need to cut costs.” Or maybe the goal is to start a marketing campaign (or at least start tweeting on a regular basis). While these goals are admirable, when you experience the pain of seeing your results fall flat, that goal has as much chance of survival as a snowball in South-town!

Alternatively, companies that articulate an intentional purpose of developing a full-scale marketing campaign have a much better chance at success than those that choose that don't. For example, a company could set a goal to “truly resonate our message with our core target market to better serve the over-reaching community.” That company is far more likely to succeed than companies that choose to send out a few extra tweets about a 25% discount they are running to sell extra inventory.

2. Write down your goals and include as many “whys” as you can. 

Studies show that writing down your goals will increase your chances of accomplishing them by over 50% but writing down “why” the goal is important to you increases your chances by upwards of 80% to 90%. By writing down as many “whys” (reasons why this goal is a MUST), you will always have a reason, and inspiration, to stay committed to your goal when you get tempted to stray. (And you will experience that temptation!!)

The goal to “complete an annual business plan” is a common goal, but it does not communicate purpose. It really comes to life when you add the why. Here is an example - "My goal is to complete an annual business plan to ensure a consistently happy clientele, secure future business, provide the ability to attract and retain better talent and increase profit by 25% over last year."

3. Celebrate the "small" wins of achieving a goal or a part of a goal - often and with gratitude.

Some goals may take weeks, months or even years to accomplish. But celebrating the small wins will keep you motivated.

You may have a goal of setting up a company-wide employee wellness program. With proper planning, guidance, and commitment this is an achievable goal; however, it will take time and effort to fully accomplish. Contacting an HR Consultant to learn about the process and what tools are available is a small win to celebrate.

Or, if you are developing a comprehensive Microsoft 365 training program for your team, you could celebrate the win once you include a 15-minute “Microsoft Tips & Tricks” segment to your weekly meeting. 

There will be milestones along the way to achieving your goals that will present great opportunities to continue to celebrate and be grateful. By celebrating often and putting emotion into the celebration, you are reinforcing the “feelings” of success. It is inevitable that you will experience setbacks along the way that will temporarily derail your progress. Celebrating small wins often will help you focus your attention and emotions on the achievement of the goal, rather than on the obstacles in your way.

4. Be smart about your S.M.A.R.T. goals.

We are all familiar with the process of setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. While this is a well-accepted method of setting and achieving goals, it has been said that if all our goals are attainable and realistic, we may not be stretching ourselves enough.

Perhaps that is where the invention of BHAGs came from. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal may be to achieve $1,000,000 in sales within a 12-month period when you have never made it above $500,000. Whether this is attainable or not, it will take proper planning and execution, but maybe most importantly, it will take a very big “why.”

5. Evaluate your goals, then re-evaluate and adjust as necessary.

You may find that striving to hit that million-dollar sales milestone is more difficult than anticipated. While reverting to your old goal might seem like the only option, be sure to evaluate all aspects of your plan. Are you focusing on the right prospects, have you hired enough sales staff, are your staff properly trained and committed to the goal?

We have all heard the phrase, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Well, if you are trying the same things and expecting different results, we already know how that turns out. But, if you are trying new things, evaluating, trying again, re-evaluating, trying again and then adjusting as necessary, your chances of hitting that BHAG are much greater. And you will learn something new in the process!

6. Never, ever, give up on achieving your goals! 

This sounds like common sense, but there are usually several reasons why we do not accomplish every goal we set out to do. Let’s face it, if goals were easy, we wouldn’t have to take so much time and effort mentally preparing to accomplish them. I am certain that watching more “cute-kitten” videos online is not on any of your goal lists for 2022, but you may find yourself watching them anyway instead of working toward your goals.

This is where, I believe, for most people, achieving goals either becomes very simple or extremely difficult. Our brains are wired to protect us from dangerous or “painful” situations, and we all know that accomplishing goals, at times, can elicit feelings of pain.

You can dig deep and find as many strong reasons as possible why a goal MUST be accomplished, celebrate your progress often (no matter how small the win is), be flexible and try different ways to accomplish the goal, and repeat this simple process as often as necessary. And then you will accomplish any goal you set for yourself - and the process will become as easy as it was to set the goal in the first place.

Topics: Professional Development


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