September seems to bring with it a strong feeling of renewal, of starting again, and a sense of a beginning. With the changing of the seasons, students are returning to school and work is gearing up again after summer vacations.
Whatever the situation, September can indicate an opportunity to focus on plans that have been dreamt about, considered, or that just need to be resumed. For each of us – individually – this might require a re-set or commitment to a new direction.
Reflecting on and reviewing what your goals are and what you aim to achieve, requires attention to what we believe are 8 key fundamentals of setting and achieving goals.
- Determine The Goal: Write it down. The physical act of writing down a goal makes it more tangible, real and crystallized. Just this one powerful step confirms the decision that this is something important enough for you to take the time to move it from thought to action. Writing down a goal helps you articulate a clear definition of what you want to achieve. Use and write down “I will” or “We will” statements to commit to the actions.
- Identify Your Measures And Outcomes: How will you know when you get there? What are the metrics? Be clear about the results you desire.
- Ensure Your Goals Are Meaningful: Goals need to be important to you and worth your time. When you think about setting a goal, analyze why you are excited about it. Why is it worth pursuing? Why is it something you want to achieve? How will it help you? Why is it important to you? Your team? Your organization? What is the motivation?
- Understand The Barriers: Assess the potential obstacles or conflicts. Be aware of potential barriers and challenges that may occur, and ready for what sacrifices achievement may require. Keep in mind that barriers are not always external forces, but could be our own self-talk or assumptions that we make about others and ourselves. Use and write down “if…then”
- Develop An Action Plan: Break it down into manageable chunks, or shorter term actions or objectives that define the steps to move you toward the final result. Balance and manage what is practical and realistic with what is flexible and adjustable. As with the act of writing out your goals, take time to write out the actions you will do. This includes actions when you encounter a barrier.
- Set Timelines: Understand the effort and time needed for the objectives that are required to achieve your ultimate goal and the key steps in reaching it. The time line is what holds us accountable on the delivery of what we want to achieve or what we need to get done.
- Review And Assess: Evaluate your progress at regular intervals. Goal attainment is an ongoing exercise, which you move through. Assessing progress ensures the opportunity to confirm that the objectives were well set; the timelines were realistic; the resources were available; and whether the actions towards achievement are working or not working. This allows us to adjust the plan rather than compromise the goal, or re-visit the goal all together.
- Celebrate! Savor the process, the experience and all the accomplishments along the way, the short-term and long-term milestones. Every accomplishment is worth recognizing and motivates us to continue.
Taking a pause and reflecting on goals and what you are doing to achieve them, will serve you well in ultimately reaching them. Whether you are a team setting goals or an individual striving toward a personal accomplishment, moving through these steps – having an action plan, checking progress, and addressing obstacles – will enable you to progress.
We all dream about things we want to achieve, but to accomplish our goals, we need to commit to the work and actions required in making them a reality.