Setting Goals – Do You Know Where You’re Going?

Sometimes we just need to keep it simple. One of the foundational steps of great leadership is to be clear on what you want to accomplish. That leads us to ask the question, do you know where you are going and know the steps to get there? In this week’s Power Idea, Senior Strategic Partner, Laura Dillingham explores this important issue of leadership.

Many times, the first thing a leader wants to do when they move into a new role is make changes. An effective leader understands that there is a minimum of three critical questions that must be asked first.

Those questions should be:
1. Where are we now?
2. Where do we want to be?
3. How are we going to get from here to there?

It is important to understand where the unit, division, organization and most significantly where you are when beginning the process of setting goals. However, whether the goals are personal or professional there are some critical elements required when setting goals. They are:

Goals should be important to you. If not, you will not be motivated to meet them. You can start by thinking of what you want in your life or where you want your unit, division, or company to be a year from now. Ask the hard questions such as what changes need to take place for this to happen? Think globally and include everything such as financial, personal, social, physical and spiritual and anything else you think might apply.

Goals should be SMART.
* Specific
* Measurable
* Attainable
* Realistic
* Time Bound

By using these guidelines, it will allow you to narrow the scope of the goal and think critically. For example, setting a goal of losing 20 pounds is not enough. But setting a SMART goal of losing 20 pounds starting March 1st and ending in six months on September 1st by following a balanced diet, eliminating sugar and exercising at least 4 days a week not only creates a visual, it establishes a commitment. Each time you formulate a goal ask yourself if your goal meets the SMART criteria.

Goals should be put in writing. If you don’t write your goals down, then you haven’t committed to accomplishing them. They are still something you are ‘thinking about’. Once you write goals down you have begun the first step to ownership. You have created a visual that you can see daily, weekly or monthly, but more importantly, you can see your progress as you accomplish the steps to meeting your goals.

Develop an Action Plan. An Action Plan takes your thoughts and creates a visual of steps and accomplishments as you work to achieve your goals. You may not know all of the steps needed to accomplish your goal in the beginning, but you will know what needs to come next as you begin to move toward what you are going to accomplish. The Action Plan is a work in progress that allows you to modify ideas and thoughts, create steps and establish outcomes. It allows you to document the process as you try different options and change directions during your journey. It creates a written illustration for future reference.

Make it happen! Meeting the goals you have set is up to you. This is an on-going commitment that ensures you stay on track. It is important that you take the time to review your progress. This will allow you to accomplish smaller goals and celebrate successes on your way to achieving the end results.

Successful leaders in the 21st century understand the importance of goal setting. They know that goal setting begins with first a thought, followed by a visual, then making a commitment, followed by action and lastly, accountability.
Remember, knowing where you are going on your journey to success always starts with …setting a goal