Here is a piece of good news – there are hundreds of books, websites and other resources that teach systems for setting goals. And the better news is that most, if not all of them, will work (if you do the work needed to make them work).
The bad news – one piece of the goal setting puzzle many of these systems don’t tackle, or do so inadequately, is the issue of goal size.
Too often this important component is relegated to one simple comment like “make them realistic” or “believable” or “a stretch”.
This brief article is meant to help you get a clearer grasp on sizing your goals – or finding the proper “Bigness Balance” as I like to call it.
Perhaps this is why I am asked questions about goal size whenever the topic of goal setting and goal achievement comes up with a Client or in a workshop setting.
What follows are six questions to ask yourself about your goals to help you determine if you’re experiencing your proper Bigness Balance. For the most part, only you (or those involved in the goal’s achievement) can pick the proper size for your goal. These questions will challenge you and give you more guidance than “make your goals realistic.”
Six Questions to Ask
As a part of any goal setting exercise, after you set your target, ask yourself these six questions. Your answers will help you determine if you have the right target or if you need to adjust it.
How does this goal relate to my purpose?
When you align your goals with your purpose, mission or big why, you set yourself up for greater success. Once the answer to this question is yes, consider if it moves you far enough, fast enough.
How much does this goal stretch my thinking?
One point of a goal is to help you think creatively about reaching your destination. If the goal is easily achievable by methods you already know, is that the right target?
Does the goal change the questions I will ask myself?
This one is related to the last one. If you set a big goal it forces you to ask completely different questions and forces you to challenge your assumptions. This piece of the exercise is where breakthroughs come from.
How much pride or satisfaction will achieving this goal create?
Satisfaction, pride and confidence are powerful motivators and sustainers of activity and effort. Does your current goal target drive these feelings?
As you see the world today, what are the odds of achieving this goal?
Your answer is an effective way to help you judge the bigness balance. If the odds are too high or too low, consider an adjustment.
Will your world/situation be significantly different or better when you achieve this goal?
If not, the goal isn’t big enough yet.
There are six questions to ask yourself about your goals. But the title promises seven ways you ask? Worry not, the last point might be the most helpful of all…
Your Sizing Tool
Your answer to these six questions may still leave you saying, “yes, but . . . I still don’t know the right size for my goal or the best target to aim for. My suggestion for that dilemma is to set three goals, not one.
To be more specific, for each goal, consider setting a range of targets like this:
- Target A – This is a perfect world scenario, I/we absolutely want it goal. It’s a big stretch and might be, with today’s thinking, out of reach. These goals have been labeled by Jim Collins (and others) as a BHAG – a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.
- Target B – This is a big, but potentially believable goal. It’s probably much closer to the target and I’m guessing one you might have thought of originally as a stretch goal before. It is big, and a stretch; however, you probably have an idea today of how you might be able to reach it.
- Target C -This is the comfortable goal, otherwise known as the minimum acceptable target. Below this level of achievement would definitely be a disappointment, and perhaps, a failure.
By now you realize my bias about the Bigness Balance, that everything else being equal, you will be more effective with a bigger goal than a smaller one. However, whatever size goal you set, you will do it more effectively and confidently using the questions and tool outlined above.
I wish you great success. By using these tools you are on the way to that success!