The first month of the year is now behind us. Which means — if you’re like many leaders — it’s time to evaluate how well you did versus your personal goals. You know, those commitments you made to yourself to start doing things, stop doing things, and change how you do things.
If the start of January is the time for goal-setting, then the start of February is time for a reality-check. How did you do? If you met all of your goals, congratulations. If you didn’t … don’t beat yourself up. It may have nothing to do with a lack of motivation, discipline or some other supposed character flaw. It may simply be that you didn’t set good goals.
Here are four questions to ask to improve your goal-setting:
1) Was I too ambitious?
The curse of being a driven, make-it-happen person, is that you become the victim of your ambition. I’m going to change! I’m going to exercise every day this month! I’m going to review my goals every evening! Better to strive for “good,” instead of “perfection,” especially at the front-end of any behavioral change. Better to set modest goals, succeed, and feel reinforced, than set stretch goals, fail, and feel discouraged.
2) Did I underestimate the obstacles and challenges?
You probably took some time to think about and then set goals. Have you taken as much time to envision the obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of achieving them? And how you can avoid or overcome those obstacles and challenges?
3) Did I allow for the unforeseeable?
As they say, “life happens” (actually they say something a little different, but we’ll leave it at that). Expect the unexpected. Even if all the stars appear to align in your favor, it’s a safe bet that something you haven’t anticipated will happen.
4) Can I set “SMARTER” goals?
SMARTER is an acronym that stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound, exciting, and recorded. These provide a good touchstone for goal-setting. Goals that meet these criteria are goals that are more likely to be achieved.
The benefit of setting better goals is that they’re more likely to get accomplished, you’re more likely to feel successful, and the related behaviors are more likely to take root.
Your first goal should be to set better goals.
Make it happen.
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