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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021

Congratulations! It is early December, and you already have your corporate and personal goals set for 2019! You have them all written down, vetted with family and/or peers, and you have milestones marked on the calendar for tracking and updates.


Well, I certainly understand why some of you may not have embraced the task of goal setting. I’m not referring to those of you who don’t believe the top performers of the world who swear by goal setting – like Michael Phelps (competitive swimmer and most decorated Olympian of all time), Kobe Bryant (NBA star), Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook), Richard Branson (business magnate), and Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors), who all believe setting goals is key to their success.

I’m referring to those of you who simply find the task overwhelming or simply don’t know where to start. For you I would like to offer the following excerpt from Intelligent Selling – “Sales Leadership and the Shared Journey to Value” by William H.Smalley.

Make Goal Setting Work

Owning your results is attitudinal. To achieve this attitude, we need tactics and tools to give us confidence to manage our performance. One of the most important tactics is setting goals.

Research shows that people who set goals achieve more than people who don’t. End of discussion. People who set higher goals achieve more results even if they do not achieve the actual goal. But the really remarkable thing about goal setting is what the mind does with that process. Whenever we set a goal our subconscious immediately begins to come up with creative ways to achieve that goal – it is not “if” but”how”. We can leverage this unique attribute to help us achieve what we want.

We have all been through the experience of setting a goal (or just thinking about something we would like to do or have). After the initial excitement and enthusiasm our minds come up with all the reasons why we can’t achieve the goal or the barriers that are in the way. This can be very discouraging so we talk ourselves out of the goal or assume it is not attainable. When this happens, weare actually misunderstanding what is going on and not using our mind properly.

When we set a goal, we need to reframe our thinking from a negative activity to apositive one. What your mind is actually coming up with is not a list of reasons why you should fail, but a list of barriers that are in the way of your goal. If we see this as a checklist of things we need to deal with to achieve our goal, then a whole new approach opens up. Seen collectively, this list may seem daunting. The trick is to break it down into specific issues or barriers and look at them one at a time.

Try this for yourself – pick something you would like to achieve or have in your life and then write down all of the things that appear as barriers. Then across from each barrier see if you can come up with a strategy to deal with that barrier. What would have to happen to make that barrier go away or be minimized to the point where it no longer stops you? Is that reasonable? Could you handle that? Very often you will find that you can.

As you work through the list an interesting thing happens. If you deal with the barriers individually, then the goal begins to look achievable and your confidence and excitement increase. If you were not able to deal with enough of the barriers then you begin to realize that the goal is probably not realistic, at this time. This is not necessarily a bad thing– it can prevent you from wasting time with a lot of wishful thinking or discouraging yourself by setting goals that are unattainable. You could perhaps set a lower goal for now. The point is that you are in control –not the barriers.”

If this helps provide you with the paradigm shift needed to get started, but you still don’t know where to actually begin, then here’s a quick “primer”.

Goal Setting

Effective Goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-bound)

Effective goals should:

  • Force you to define your value system
  • Identify a track for you to follow
  • Help you focus your energy
  • Force you to set priorities
  • Help you manage your behavior
  • Help you identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Improve your self-esteem and provide growth opportunities
  • Motivate you and make you stretch

Goals should be:

  • Written down
  • Short term, mid-term and long term
  • Personal – what you want for yourself
  • Professional – business goals required in order to attain personal goals*

Seven fundamental areas for goals: (Tangible and Intangible)

  • Family
  • Spiritual
  • Professional
  • Health
  • Social
  • Education
  • Financial

The 10 Steps of Effective Goal Setting

  1. Start with seven pieces of paper, one for each of the seven types of goals. Take inventory of where you are right now in each area.
  2. For each area write down what you want to accomplish now and for the future (Tangible & Intangible).
  3. Review your list in each area and prioritize from the most important to the least.
  4. Make a separate master list of the top three goals from each area.
  5. Prioritize your master list. Goals can be moved around and don’t have to remain associated with a specific area but must be clearly stated. Check this list of twenty-one goals for balance and conflict. Make sure your top ten goals are not too heavily weighted in just one or two areas.
  6. Write a detailed description of how you are going to attain your goals. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. Goals should make you stretch – fantasize a little!
  7. Decide on a timetable for each goal. Break down each long-term goal into short-term activities and set deadlines. Include monthly, weekly and daily activities.
  8. Share your goals with others – family, friends and colleagues. Solicit their input about how they feel about your goals, how they are affected by them and how they may want to coordinate their goal setting with your own.
  9. Review your goals regularly and track your progress.
  10. Be persistent and don’t quit – as your priorities can change over time, you may have to redefine or realign your goals. Keep in mind that a person of wisdom will adjust their behavior before adjusting their goals. Abandon a goal only if it becomes irrelevant, not because it’s too hard. Follow a process. Plan your work and work your plan.

* Professional goals should be stepping stones toward life goals!