Generally, most people only set goals in January. Our “New Year's Resolutions” are meant to start our year off on a good note. For some, this is the only time of the year that a goal is ever set. So, now that we have made it from January to May, have you been achieving your goals?
Don’t feel too bad. According to surveys, only 8 percent of Americans successfully achieve their New Year's resolutions and a whopping 45 percent fail by the end of January! It is important to know that you can set goals at any time of the year, and not just in January. In fact, it is a good idea to continuously analyze your goals and to adjust if necessary.
The following steps comprise a framework to prepare both individuals and business leaders to follow a structured approach for setting goals aligned with a mission. The framework is comprised of both biblical teachings and best practices from a business perspective.
Why Set Goals?
When a goal is set and written down with a plan of action and accountability is established then the likelihood that you will accomplish those goals increases to over 65 percent, according to the American Society of Training and Development.
Also, biblical teachings show that setting goals is a wise thing to do and will lead to success. According to Proverbs 13:16, "A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn't and even brags about it!". In Proverbs 21:5, it states that "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." There are plenty of research and studies that show the benefits of goal setting, but don’t just start with writing down goals without taking a step back to determine first what you are ultimately looking to achieve in life or over the course of a business.
Step 1: Determine your vision and mission
Setting goals without first defining a vision and mission statement for your life or business is like driving around without even knowing where you are going. Your vision statement is your inspiration and framework for all planning. While a vision statement doesn’t tell you how you’re going to get there, it does set the direction for all goal planning.
Steven Covey, the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People," suggests that in order to best create a vision statement is to imagine that you could attend your own funeral. What would you want people to say in a eulogy for yourself?
Your vision statement should not be limited on the current obstacles in your life or issues in your past and should be the end result of what you will have done. It is a picture of how the landscape will look after you’ve been through it. It is your ideal. Some will be as simple as “To live a life devoted to teaching children,” or could include multiple items such as “To be a lifetime learner, devoted to entrepreneurialism and public service." There’s no wrong answer, but consider that nobody on their death bed wishes that they worked longer hours.
After you know where you want to be in life or in business (your vision statement), you can then consider how you will get there. A mission statement defines a person or organization's purpose and primary objectives. A mission should clarify what you will do to achieve your vision. Keep it simple—a few sentences at most.
Part of my mission in life is not just what I feel I can achieve, but instead my ability to encourage others to meet their life’s mission, through teaching and encouragement. You should feel confident that you have defined a clear mission before moving forward with the goal setting process.
Step 2: Define roles
Roles are authentic relationships and responsibilities that you’ve committed to. (Steven Covey) Roles represent responsibilities, relationships, callings, and areas of contribution. Defining your roles in life gives you balance and harmony.
Some examples of common roles include Christian, spouse, parent, worker, community servant, student, friend, motivator and leader. After you define your roles, you can review them frequently to make sure that you don’t get totally absorbed by one role to the exclusion of others that are equally or even more important in your life.
Step 3: Set goals and targets
Goal setting is the process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the result you desire. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound (referred to as SMART goals).
If your mission includes being a good steward in the community, then a goal may be to contribute two hours a week to community service for the entire year. The more specific, the better chance you have at completing the goal.
As mentioned before, be sure to write down your goals and adjust them regularly to make sure you are working towards attainable and realistic goals. It is also a good practice to share your goals with others. It’s good when friends and family are there as a guide as you work to achieve your goals.
Be sure to set targets for success. Targets are the measurable criteria used to define the success of a goal. A goal can be broken down into multiple targets (also known as milestones) in order to evaluate progress on an on-going basis. If you goal is to lose a certain amount of weight in a year, then you can break that down into quarterly and monthly targets to monitor success.
Don’t get discouraged. Roadblocks don’t mean failure. Also remember that it takes time to form a habit.
If you are starting a new workout plan, you may have to make it through a few weeks in order for your body to adjust. Giving up on week three because you don’t see results is a mistake.
In the business world, external threats such as new regulations or unplanned market trends can quickly derail a plan. Good business leaders will need to be able to quickly adjust goals and mitigate risk. There was once a struggling company that was loosing the personal computing and operating system battle against Microsoft and IBM compatible brands. What if Apple didn’t set goals to diversify and release the I-POD and I-Phone?
Step 4: Align mission and goals with core values
We may both have the same goal, for instance winning a basketball tournament this year. One of us may trash talk and play dirty and the other may be very humble and play less aggressive. Core values are your personal set of rules as you work towards your mission. These are the fundamental beliefs, morals, and standards that define you as a person and which guide your behavior. While other aspects of your life may change, your core set of values do not change. Core values are what you tell a person who asks you, "What do you stand for in your life?"
As a Christian, many of my core values come from the teachings in the Bible. For instance, Second Peter 1:3-11 teaches the values of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and charity.
As a husband and father, I work to execute the values of dependability, patience, and quality time with family.
We have noticed from the Enron scandal and other classic examples that many businesses have moved away from their core values or haven’t spent enough time considering these values in meeting organizational goals.
Start from your vision and mission and determine what core values can be set as you work to achieve that mission. Once you align these core vales (your personal rule book) with your mission and goals, you will notice a change in your life or business.
Have you defined a clear mission and set goals to achieve this mission? Share it with Bolingbrook on the Patch.