Why Goal Setting Matters
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
Our world is moving fast – to the future. It is a fact of life. How are we to respond? We too must move fast or we will get left behind. I see it all too often where a once successful company falls behind. Playing from behind is no fun. More than a few years ago I was on a variety of sport teams. I remember both playing while ahead or even and playing from behind. Playing from behind was miserable. It takes twice the effort and focus to catch-up. Mistakes are magnified. Stress can inhibit our ability to perform. When the team plays from an even standpoint or ahead, it plays with more confidence and mistakes are more easily assimilated. In sports, playing while even or ahead is the goal. No team wants to play from behind. How do we avoid this?
Individuals, teams, and organizations must be outstanding at execution of their goals to thrive. It’s really the only way to play with confidence and some measure of control. Goals that get translated to action and later get accomplished allow us to be successful. However, not all goals are created equally. SMART goals are much better. I do like the SMART acronym. However, I may be using a different set of words than you are used to hearing. For me, SMART signifies Significant, Meaningful, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Our goals must first be Significant – they need to move the needle in our lives and businesses. Why else should we focus on them? We have plenty of things we must do each week. However, we need to have a few goals that make us significantly more competitive and prosperous. Why? Without them we will fall behind – and we do not want to play from behind. Choose a few critical goals for your life, your team, and your business that move the needle and are significant. Are your current goals Significant?
Our goals must also have Meaning. Meaning ignites our passion so we can succeed when the going gets tough – and it will if it is significant. Make sure all of your SMART goals have meaning to you and to your team. At MACNY, all of our SMART goals must serve our members in a way that adds value to their lives and organizations. It gives us the passion to do it well and to go the extra mile. When setting a SMART goal, we are explicit in why it adds value to others so we can ensure that we get the desired result. Do your goals have explicit Meaning?
Each goal must involve Accountability. Someone or some team must have ownership. It must also be transparent in order to track progress. If it’s a SMART goal, then we know clear ownership will result in action being taken. Why? Because we are monitoring it on a weekly or monthly basis. Scorecards are how we best monitor and maintain accountability. Is someone Accountable for your SMART goals?
Every SMART goal must be Realistic. Goals must move through the cycle of Impossible to Possible to Probable to Given. If a goal cannot make that journey than the goal is not realistic. No person or team should be given an unrealistic goal. However, SMART goals starts by being impossible – because it has not been done before by us or is currently not being done by us. This is a second check on goals for their significance. We need to be doing it to stay competitive (significant) but it must also be realistic so we can do it. If we go off on a quest for unrealistic goals, we will end them deflated and further behind. They must be within our reach – but just out of current reach. This is how we build capacity and resilience. Are your SMART goals Realistic?
Finally, they must be Time-bound. Timelines and deadlines are a must to getting goals accomplished. A goal without a timeline and deadline is nothing more than a dream – relevant to a good night’s sleep but not enough for a great day of work. Are your SMART goals Time-bound?
Play with the competition – play ahead as often as you can. Use SMART goals to get there. It’s how you’ll thrive in today’s economy.
Looking for more on how to move toward the future? Download my Amazon Bestseller, Present-Future Leader: How to Thrive in Today’s Economy.