Vision and Goal Setting that sticks
Clear Your Thoughts
A challenge for many people and companies is to decide which goal setting system to use. Are you one of the many people spending too much time spent looking for the best goal setting system? Have you realized this distracts you from the original purpose of your goals? You see, it’s all a question of time. For every moment you spend exploring different goal systems, you are not actively doing the things that matter – the actions to create your end results.
Time to get back to basics
I suggest to all our clients to revisit the original purpose of your goal. I am not asking what the actual goal is, but more, why you have chosen this goal? What is the medium and long term vision?
We choose goals to help transform behavior and outcomes to an improved place of learning, results across many areas of life. The need to focus on the purpose of your goals is more important than the actual goal system you choose, it also may affect your selection of which system to use.
Understand the difference between your Goals and Vision
A goal is a future result; it will be measurable and specific. I have written before about the difference between various goals setting systems (see further reading at the bottom of this article), the key point they have in common is you create a specific end destination. So, once the goal is achieved you can celebrate and create new ones.
The most common goal examples are similar to the below list:
· I will lose 6 kilo by March 18th, 2016
· Our business will raise its gross sales to $9million by the end of Q2 2016
· Our family will take our summer holiday at Disney Land in 2016
· I will help in a community project for at least 25 hours during 2016
· Our business will improve employee satisfaction by 10% by the end of Q3 2016
Your vision goes beyond the actual goal. The vision is a more holistic and embracing view of WHY and HOW you want your future life and business to behave, look, impact and feel like. A vision is less specific in its detail and more abstract; they are emotional and subjective future states.
There are great reasons why we see vision boards in extensive use. The reason is simple; it is too hard and complex to put specific words to embrace the full meaning of your vision. Instead, shorter vision statements are used.
The key message within a vision statement is to highlight how an ideal future state will be.
Take the Time
One common feedback point in business, is that too much is measured, tracked, managed and reported upon that has no significant impact. I understand the CEO’s desire to have “The best business” and to deliver every ounce of shareholder value from a business, but the reality is that staff is less engaged than ever.
The same can be found in your personal life. I discovered that following too many details on my Endomondo running results started to distract me from the very reasons why I started to run again in the first place.
The people and companies worth engaging with the most, are not the pure short term numbers driven goal getters, but those that have a clear vision and impact creation philosophy, these are the people and companies that connect short term actions to a medium/long term purpose with progress.
Question: What goals are you engaged with that you are not aware of the real reasons why? How does this make you feel motivated towards the goal?
I recall a time when I lead marketing team, many of the team engaged in telemarketing calls to companies, call after call, hour after hour and day after day. The staff retention rate was very high for the type of job. The main reason for this retention was the staff’s ability to understand and connect their call actions to improving the company, service levels improvements and their own medium/long term benefits. So, your goals are a fantastic tool to help you measure WHAT to do, but the goal on its own does not support WHY you do it. Therefore if you find a point in life or your career that you are less motivated by your goals then seek to connect and align a reason WHY the goal can become important and significant.
Action Point: Review your personal vision and find 3 areas that can be connected to personal/career goals over the next 12 months.
What to do with goals when a crisis hits.
Can you imagine the thoughts, fears and concerns of a taxi driver when Uber announces its service in your home town? Are you old enough to recall the events and impacts of the financial crisis? Have you pursued a fitness goal and then suffered from a long term injury? These types of events can have significant impact to your specific goals. Some of these events are also out of your own personal sphere of control and so this raises a question about the purpose of goal setting.
Your goals should be born from a vision; the vision may change over time but is less susceptible to change than specific goals. When a crisis hits you, this is the time to go back to your vision as a reference guide and seek new ways to adapt to new circumstances, set new goals and pursue your vision.
JAMSO Goal Shift Experience 2015:
I started 2015 with a clear half marathon goal by end of June. I had a time set, program in place and a great training foundation to have a fantastic result. Then my crisis hit! I suffered an achilles tendon problem on both feet. This impacted my goal so much that I had to return to my original vision of health and fitness. Now I still am in treatment for my Achilles but have changed my fitness program to align and support the original vision.
Question: Do you have vision that you stopped pursuit simply because your first method of goal setting did not work out?
Through an open mind you may discover new opportunities and methods to bring your vision to life. If you simply become too goal-focused, then you can be blinded to broader ideas. So, by being more vision focused and vision prioritized you can remain adaptable and open to tactical change. This is more important than ever today, as new technology and information flow spreads across the globe.
Get what you need and not what you want.
Every business and person has worked for something and yet fell short of their goal. It could be any examples within a sale, career, physical or financial goal. The emotions felt at this disappointment can linger for a long time within us. The strange thing is that similar emotions can be found in those that do achieve their goals also. We see this in highly competitive fields such as music and sport. A person achieves their goal of a gold medal or sings a number 1 hit song only to disappear into obscurity after. Part of the reason for this lack of repeat performance is the pure goal setting focus and not the vision impact being sought after.
Then we see the greats in sport and music, who despite their wealth and success seem to continue with the same vigor and enthusiasm. Think of Valentino Rossi or The Rolling Stones to understand that something else drives them other than a simple goal, their pursue a vision for their entire career, lives and those that they impact and inspire.
A clear vision provides you or a business an ideal to keep in pursuit, even when you have completed your goal. The goals you set help provide short-term direction and action and yet it is the vision that keeps your emotional fires going longer.
I have made it clear in this article that a vision connects to the longer term emotional needs of a person and provides priority clarity for a business. You should take some time to seek how your goals in life and work or study connect and align to your vision. This clarity will helps you understand how to adapt to changing circumstances and put into perspective the approach for performance and goal management.
Your goals act as a framework for you to choose specific goals at the correct time, place and method to help bring about the impact and change you seek.
Making Your Goals Sticky
One of the most common things we find from business to business and person to person is how people’s goals stop. Sometimes there is good reason and new goals are created to replace the old ones. There is however a significant amount of people and organizations that drift from one goal to another, never complete a goal or simply give up and stop.
The alignment of your vision and goals is an important step in making them sticky. However this is defines the intent, plan and reason but not the actual actions. The actions of goal completion are mostly made from behaviors that are formed from good habit formation with a dose of realism.
Create few but significant goals
Before going off in all directions to pursue all sorts of new goals, just concentrate on one or only a few. If you look at successful people and business models, they become known for one or only a few things before expanding into new areas. The same applies to you and your business.
The common practice and best advice for goal setting in life and business is to have not more than between 5-7 top key performance indicators that work towards a common vision. So, if your vision is to have a specific lifestyle, then break the goal steps into key areas and work on not more than this number to ensure high focus and increase the chance of success.
There is no question that personal accountability is a great tool to keep performance on track, this is why we see a board of directors responsible for specific areas of the business. They become accountable for all the actions and results in each area and need to respond to challenging questions from other directors or the CEO and shareholders. Therefore you should consider including sensitive accountability for your own personal goals. We do not suggest you need to have an accountability partner for every goal however for selective goals this can help boost your performance and keep goals on track.
The key aspects to consider for your accountability actions include
· Select an accountability partner/coach that will provide honest and direct feedback
· Is my accountability partner reliable?
· Choose a specific goal where you hold your own accountability sessions to yourself
· Be prepared for awkward open discussions and a lot of learning
Conscious Control of Results
Your attitude to control your performance, habits and results is key for the success of your goal setting. Successful athletes realize that attitude is a choice and they use it for their own advantage. Some tools you can consider to improve the conscious control include
· Positive self-talk through affirmations and/or motivational quotes
· Visualization using realistic images to prepare yourself for action
· Anxiety can be used in a positive way to motivate positive action
· Emotional states vary during different times of the day and depending on environmental inputs – manage these for positive outcomes.
· Concentration levels are different for each person. Discover your own productivity levels and work around optimal concentration periods for high demanding and stimulating work.
· Ignore the naysayers. Yeap that’s it, ignore them.
The G power of goal setting is Gamification
Do you know why games, loyalty programs, badges and rewards are given to people who interact with apps or modern companies? The simple answer is because the gamification of process and tasks works. It provides a motivational and rewarding signifier to the participant. It also provides good immediate feedback on performance and is personal to each participant.
The movement of gamification in modern society is gathering momentum and indeed we hear social phrases such as “level up” for improvement made. It is possible to use apps and create gamification solutions for your goals or simply create stage rewards as already highlighted in my SMARTER goals article.
Slipping on goal setting banana skins
There are times in life where something does not go to plan; an unexpected event generates a stall in performance for your goals. This can be a diet or training program that goes off the rails for a short period of time. This is the point when and where most people or business calls out a “failure” and stop. However, this is just the time to learn from the mistake and error and get back to the process of results and goal creation performance.
Just acknowledge that any goal worth pursuing will come with hurdles, set-backs, difficult and humbling experiences before real solid and sustained performance is maintained.
So, do not be too hard on your experiences of slipping on the odd banana skin as you move your vision to goals and goals to action.
Experience from James Doyle JAMSO founder: For me the biggest continued challenge has to be my language skills in Danish. I have never been a natural learner for languages but certainly gained good competence in Spanish and Tai over the years yet I have real problems creating true fluency in Danish. I see it as a “work in progress” now, so will not give up on the goal; I just have had to be more forgiving with my deadline.
Question: What is the toughest challenge you have faced and made least progress in?
Embrace the journey for delight
When I think of my own personal journey in life, I would have been encouraged to set much more reasonable goals and expectations by family and peers. Instead, since my twenties I ignored these comments and pursued what was deemed as wild ideas. The journey so far in life has been fantastic, with many greater things to come. One the way I have accomplished more than many expected from me and yet I am also aware of the goals that were not fully attained for one reason or other. This reflection allows me to simply embrace the journey of goal setting action.
For many people and business’s setting a vision and goals are the easiest hurdles, the habit formation and system process of goal attainment is their elusive missing key. This is one of the many areas that JAMSO helps personal and business.
You can benefit from the JAMSO INSPIRED tool. We use this with clients to encourage continued growth, exploration and motivation during the goal getting phase of your performance.
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Further Reading and Reference
Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO. We have over 200 free articles, tools and resources for your success.