In other words, we’d have already achieved it.
Yet too often we treat goal achievement like the rest of the work.
We put the time in to set the goals, and then we magically expect them to achieve them during the year, even if we don’t really change our behavior or our calendar.
Given this, it should be no big surprise that we too often frantically work in the fourth quarter to make a valiant effort to achieve them, or we rationalize that the world has changed and that goal isn’t as important as it was. In other words, we don’t reach as many goals as we could.
This all seems pretty counter-productive to me. More accurately, it seems almost like insanity. Insanity, it is said, is doing the same things and expecting different results.
So if we want different results, we must take different actions. The best way to make that happen is to change our actions at the habit level— and that is the point of this piece.
In other words, what habits will help us achieve more of our goals?
While the list could be long, here are five that, when appropriately adjusted, can make a big difference in how often and how effectively you reach your goals.
Invest time. To reach our goals, we need time to think, study, make phone calls, try things, and much more. Reaching goals requires time. How much time are you allotting per day or per week solely for working on bigger goals? The reality is that goals are always important, but seldom seen as urgent. To achieve more goals faster you must schedule time to work on them.
Create Better Timelines. When goals are set there is often a high level timeline for their achievement, which is a good and necessary step. Yet, those high level timelines aren’t enough. To achieve the goals you set, treat them like projects. Create milestones and timelines to transfer the good intentions of goal setting into the reality of goal achievement.
Give consistent effort. Goals are best achieved though consistent, persistent, on-going effort. Resolve to make one forward step towards your goal each day. The step is important, but so is the momentum it creates. Too often goal achievement stagnates for lack of momentum and not knowing what to do next. If effort is consistent and ongoing, this block seldom occurs. Ask yourself and your team: what can we do (or did we do) to move towards our goals today?
Create frequent reminders. This one is easy if you are changing the three habits we have already discussed! But that doesn’t lessen its importance in any way. Find ways to keep your goals in front of you. Read them daily; post them in your office. Discuss progress at team meetings. When our subconscious minds are aware of how important our goals are to us, and are constantly being reminded of that fact, it will go to work in helping notice and see opportunities. While the processes are complex, the simple answer is that when we keep our subconscious mind engaged we will reach our goals faster.
Raise expectations. Expect that your goals can be reached. Expect that you will find a way to dissolve or overcome the stumbling blocks. Working on expectations feeds belief and contributes to momentum as well. What can you do to raise and communicate (to yourself and others) your expectations related to achieving your goals?
These habits will begin to change organizationally only when you as a leader begin to first change them yourself by personal example.
Your own actions on your own goals send a powerful message ad make your suggestions and team-based process changes more believable and doable by your team.
Making these changes will help your team, department, and organization achieve more goals faster. As a wonderful side benefit, you find the same results for yourself, both personally and professionally.
In the end it is simple. Adjust or fine tune these habits and you change your future. If you don’t, next year’s results will look pretty similar to what you are experiencing right now.
photo credit Matt McGee