By Rob Sheehan. For more detailed ideas on Goals that are included in this blog, please check out my new, free e-book entitled The Power of Goals
Dreams are very important! Any time we set out to make a difference we need to begin with looking deep inside ourselves and asking what we care about, what are our aspirations, what are our visions for the future?
But in order to bring our dreams and our visions into reality, we need to set goals. Without goals, you run the risk of dreaming the day away and never really making a difference.
There has been a ton of research done on goals (for example, “A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance,” by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham). Here are some of the most important guidelines for setting goals:
- Set goals as outcomes – on what you really want, not the activities that may lead toward them.
- Make sure that all your goals are SMRT: Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound
- Use the right “A” in your SMART goal formula. All goals need to be SMRT. But to be SMART you need to pick the “A” that is right for your situation. Here are your options:
- Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good if failing will have many negative consequences. Attainable goals are good to build some momentum with easy wins, or to learn more about new environments, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.
- Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance. Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.* If you feel like you have a good system and you want to maximize performance of it, then this method will help you do it.
- Almost Impossible Stretch Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal. “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it. You have an opportunity for breakthrough performance with Almost Impossible Stretch Goals.
- Celebrate Noble Failure. If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about. This mind-set will bring you more long-term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.
Again, you can see more detail on all of this in The Power of Goalse-book. If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Good luck with all of your dreams and your goals!
Robert M. Sheehan, Jr., Ph.D., is the academic director of the executive MBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He provides consulting services in strategic planning, board development, and leadership and teamwork development for nonprofits. He has more than 30 years of executive management experience, including 18 years as the CEO of two different national nonprofits – including LeaderShape, Inc. from 1992 – 2001. He currently serves as Past Chair of The Board of Trustees of LeaderShape.