Moving from Objectives to GoalsDec 05, 2023
About 5 months ago, I had made a decision to exercise more. My pants just weren’t fitting the way they needed to. I distinctly remember this because one day I came out of the bedroom and asked my wife, “Are these pants a little too tight?” Her response was, “Those are obscene. You need to get them off NOW!!!!!” (Yes, I am a vain man). It was time to make a lifestyle change. I decided I need to exercise more.
After a month of exercising more, I was disheartened to notice there was no change in my physical appearance. I still didn’t feel comfortable in my pants.
That’s when I decided I needed to buckle down, set a definitive SMART goal and get some help.
I reached out to a bunch of colleagues at work and asked who would like to join me on a step challenge of ten thousand steps a day, ‘Let’s get healthier, Folks!’ After some conversations and negotiations, five of us settled on 50,000 steps a week from Labor Day weekend to American Thanksgiving. Four months later, I’m down 15 pounds and we’re still going strong.
This exercise reminded me of a couple of things I wanted to share with you about the Power of Goal Setting:
BE MINDFUL OF OBJECTIVES VERSUS GOALS
At first, my desire was to look better in my pants by exercising more. This general objective did not adhere to principles of goal-setting that we all know so well: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timeline (SMART). Even though we know this, we often don’t adhere to crafting our goal carefully and inadvertently allow ourselves wiggle room to get away from our higher expectations. It wasn’t until I turned my objective into a SMART goal that I had a level of accountability and a measuring stick to say, ‘Mission Complete’ each and every day. I can honestly say that it’s worth it. There is a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment that sets in when you have met a clearly defined goal—crossing it off your list each and every day.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY HELPS KEEP US MOTIVATED
Truth be told, I had been trying to get to 10,000 steps a day for a while and kept failing. I realized that I needed support to help me accomplish this goal. I reached out to like-minded folks in my community who were ready and willing to pursue the same goals. While each of them had different motivations (not everyone cared about how they looked in their pants), each believed the goal was worthy for their own reason. The power of community took hold. We held each other accountable in a group chat nightly. We posted our step counts to each other. We supported each other with words of encouragement and ribbing when we missed, and we were there to make sure we had something to celebrate at the end when we accomplished it—a night out with our partners and each other. This was just the secret sauce I needed.
It’s interesting to note that even though the goal was maybe not as robust as I may have set on my own, by being willing to be flexible and listen to the input of the group, we were able to get more buy-in from folks and all achieve success together. You’ve heard me say it time and time again, Folks, "Nobody does anything great alone.”
IDENTIFYING DISTRACTIONS LEADS TO SUCCESS
A common mistake in goal setting is not planning for DISTRACTIONS. What are the things that will keep you from achieving your goals? Sometimes we focus only on the task at hand and are not mindful of the barriers to success. These barriers sometimes show up as policies, norms, budgets or people, and we have to be mindful of them, in order to see them coming and plan a strategy to address them.
When I set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, my distraction was all the other things in my day that were more attractive. I ran the risk of running out of time and energy before I got the steps in. By noticing this, I planned to do my walking first thing in the morning so that no other thing could push my priority off my calendar. Boredom was also a distraction for me. So, I talked my partner into joining to keep me company. It ended up with the added benefit of outstanding quality time and improving her health, as well.
FOCUS ON THE PROCESS
Let’s be clear. I opened up with my problem: my pants were fitting too tight. You’ll notice that my SMART goal wasn’t written as looking good or even losing 15 pounds by the end of the semester. While all of those outcomes are important to me, I really focused on the process—the actions and behaviors I needed to do in order to achieve my ultimate outcome goal. I always think of processes as a stair-step, each one laddering up, connected to one-another driving me toward a specific outcome goal.
Close $600,000 in sales in the next fiscal
- Develop new marketing material to distribute to 400 cold contacts.
- Reach out to 100 new clients by the end of the first quarter.
- Bring 6 new people into the showroom for a tour each week.
- Take 2 clients out for lunch each week.
- Put out two sales proposals per month.
I want you to focus on the process because it breaks down your outcome goal into manageable steps that follow the SMART principles which will move you toward your success. If you are having trouble identifying the processes, take a moment to reflect on the actions and processes that you might be intuitively executing and attach some quantifiable indicators that will ensure that you are consistently raising the bar and pursuing excellence with them.
I have found goal setting to be really helpful in both my personal and professional life. As a leader, goal setting helps set clear expectations for your team members and provides an opportunity for you to provide consistent feedback to make sure your people are on track. Last and certainly not least, goal setting creates an opportunity to celebrate the milestones along the way as you build your high performing culture.