The importance of setting goals
November 09, 2011
Whether you're the owner of a small business or a manager it's likely that you have goals, and if you've reached such a high-profile position you've no doubt accomplished some of those objectives. But how effective is the process of goal-setting? Is it really an effective means of meeting a sale projection or growth aspiration? Wouldn't it follow that hard work and a good attitude are more instrumental than a mere checklist?
The shorter answer is: yes. Merely writing down something you want to do is not effective in and of itself. However, by specifically outlining your ambitions - complete with a timeline and step-by-step process - you can indirectly bolster the tools already at your disposal: time and effort.
"Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there," explains Heidi Grant Halvorson for the Hardvard Business Review. "Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll 'eat less' or 'sleep more' is too vague - be clear and precise. 'I'll be in bed by 10 p.m. on weeknights' leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it."
The same goes for a professional environment. Ask yourself: What do you want from this job? Where do you see yourself within this company? What sort of revenue do you want to earn by the end of next year? How many new customers should you strive for?
It's also important to routinely monitor your success. It's not enough to say "this is what I want" - you need to set a timeline and pay close attention to it. If you don't know how well you're doing, you can't adjust your behavior accordingly, Halvorson adds.
Goal-setting is important and there's not reason you shouldn't set the bar high. After all, the more challenging the objective, the greater the reward. However, lofty or unrealistic expectations can be more draining than a meager projection.
"Don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal," Halvorson points out. "Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure."