Updated: Apr 19
You know the importance of goal setting for your business success. The challenge is creating an effective goal-setting process, so you actually hit your marks. We’ve all heard of SMART goals but this article breaks down the scientific research to make you a goal-achieving maverick!
The secrets behind goal setting first emerged in 1968, when Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham wrote their infamous article: 'Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.'
What they found was there's an actual science of goal achievement. It turns out that goal setting is directly tied to achievement! It's no wonder that Locke's work continues to be talked about decades later.
It may come as a surprise when I say this, so hold onto your seat: the more difficult yet obtainable and specific a goal, the harder you will work to achieve business goals.
If that doesn't make sense yet, don't worry. I'm going to discuss Locke's five principles to goal setting, as well as two of my own steps that are integral to stepping up your goal-setting game.
So, let's get started!
The 7 Key Steps for Goal Achievement
1. Clarity and Specificity
The first step is setting your goal. The more clear and specific, the higher your chance is to succeed.
You also want to make sure you set a challenging goal—the more challenging the intention, the better the yield. A motivating goal that pushes you to reach your potential is proven to build confidence.
Surprisingly, if it’s too easy to achieve, it won’t inspire and motivate you enough to stay focused.
Commitment is the glue that holds together the entire goal-setting process. You have to want it! When you are committed to your goal, you are far more likely to see it through to the end.
It'll be tough to achieve your objective on the flip side if it's based on something you think is valuable for your business, but you really are not in alignment with it.
4. Feedback - OKR's
Create measurable feedback to track your progress. Shockingly you don't want 100% success...at first!
Here's why - Acclaimed venture capitalist, John Doerr, expands on this issue in his book 'Measure What Matters.' Doerr suggests using calculable Objectives and Key Results (OKR's) to help you focus on your goals.
Basically, you want to aim for a 70% goal accomplishment. A 60-70% positive result is considered successful.
If you're able to accomplish 100% of your goals, you're probably not challenging yourself enough to achieve maximum potential. Creating benchmarks with a numbered system will help you make a useful goal-setting framework to measure your key results.
For a business coach, key results may look like this:
Key Result 1: Speak at 5 events
Key Result 2: Acquire 10 clients from the events
Key Result 3: Create a joint venture from those I meet at events
At the end of the quarter or set time period, measure your success based on these key results. Did you get five clients instead of ten? If so, great! Now think of what worked and what can be improved to increase your client acquisition.
5. Task Complexity
Fully maximize your goals and stay focused by dividing goals into smaller chunks. Be sure to set time frames for completing each task. It's typical to measure results quarterly. This methodology will simplify the process and enable you to realistically accomplish your goals every step of the way.
Goal Setting in Action
When I use these principles to accomplish a goal, I know I will strive for success and reach the finish line. Though I've used this life-changing strategy countless times, I'll share an example of one of how I used this strategy for personal goal setting.
As we all know, 2020 was a super challenging year. What better way to push myself than to set a little personal challenge of my own? I decided I wanted to buy a new, super cool treadmill.
Here's how I went about planning this goal:
1. Clarity: I knew I wanted a treadmill, so I visualized a clear and specific treadmill and decided I wanted the Peloton treadmill by the end of January.
2. Challenge: This goal is challenging because 1) it's pricey, and 2) I need to figure out how to fit it into my house! I needed to find a Murphy Bed and redo my son's old room entirely to have the treadmill's space. All of that needs to be done before I allow myself to place the order.
3. Commitment: I enjoy running, and I LOVED going to the gym pre-Covid. Running also creates feel-good endorphins that keep me going back for more.
4. Feedback: I set the deadline for getting the treadmill by January 30th because moving quickly prompts me to succeed. There's less time to second guess or have obstacles block me. Purchasing a treadmill is a straightforward objective, so no need to measure key results. I either get it, or I don't.
5. Task Complexity: Then, I created a list of what I needed to do to make it happen. That way, I can quickly check off each item as I complete it.
Additional Tips for Successful Goal Setting
Feeling ready to go? I certainly am with my new treadmill in sight! Now that you're equipped with the 5 principles needed to step up your goal setting, here are two additional steps to help in further actualizing your goals:
6. Make a Plan
Have a structured plan that is clearly laid out and defined. This method will shape the entire goal-setting process. From start to finish, brainstorm how you see your tasks unfolding along the way. Keep a daily planner for smaller objectives, and develop a plan that focuses on daily, weekly, and monthly goals to help you prepare.
7. Set Morning Visualizations
This step is huge! You want to start your days right by intentionally visualizing your goals and objectives first thing in the morning, every day.
Imagine yourself successfully completing each of your tasks. How does it feel to visualize your goal? Hold onto those feelings that come with imagining success, and use those feelings to move forward to make that success.
And there you have it! These 7 steps will be sure to help you step up your goal setting and lead to healthier objectives that boost your confidence and achieve your business goals.
Be a Goal-Setting Maverick
You can use this methodology for different types of goal-setting. You saw my personal goal process for attaining my new high-tech treadmill. Try it for relationships, up-leveling your staffing, or scaling your company.
This process is an important tool to help you achieve monumental objectives in a strategic and intelligent approach.
The more systematized you become, the more success you'll see. If you already have goals in mind, start designing your OKR's and implement the tips above. You'll soon be a goal-setting superstar!
P.S. This is a real session, where you will have big ah-ha's!