Planning for success: Step 2 – Goals

In the first post of this Success Planning series, I introduced the concept of creating a vision, imagining a desirable future state that will excite and motivate you to take action to achieve it. In this blog, I want to talk to you about creating goals; precise statements of what you want to achieve to deliver your vision. Notice, I have said what you want not how or why, we will come to those later; the ‘what’ is also referred to as the “Product” or “Product Goal” in some places.

When is a goal not a goal?

No, I’m not looking to re-open the debate about the use of goal line technologies in football. As I have said above a goal is a precise statement of intent, of what you want to achieve, of what you are going to deliver. To have the maximum benefit, it will need to be specific in the detail, have a means of being measured, will be relevant & related to your vision and be bound by time. If it does not meet these criteria, it is an aim. Compare these statements:

  • I want to lose a stone
  • By 31st August 2010, my weight when I step on the scales at the gym will be 13st 7lbs
  • The date is 31st August 2010, I step onto the scales at the gym and my weight is 13st 7lbs

Some may say that the first statement is a goal, sorry not in my book, it is an aim. The second statement is a goal, there is a specific date by which a specific measurable entity will be achieved. The third statment is even better, it is written in the present tense as if it is already achieved, as you say that you can visualise the actions and that helps build the strength of the goal.

Well formed goals

SMART is an acronymn that is commonly used to describe well formed goals. SMART goals are made up as follows:
Goals - Ignition Coaching
Specific: the detail of the goal must be specific and avoid comparitive statements (avoid better, more, less etc)
Measurable: the goal must have specific measures, typically in the form of quantity, time, cost. Where possible, use actual numbers so convert percentages to a value eg. if your sales were £500K last year, instead of writing “improve sales by 10%” write “achieve sales of £550K”.
Achievable: you have to believe that the goal is achievable. We will look at belief in another post
Relevant: The goal has to be relevant to, fit with and move you towards, what you are looking to achieve; towards your vision
Time bound: The goal must have a specific target date such as 31st August in the example above. Avoid using things such as quarters, half years as these can introduce ambiguity.

Other tips

Use positive statements and language: focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want
Write your goals down: this has been proven as a way to strengthen commitment and therefore delivery of goals
Check that your goals are consistent with your vision and do not conflict with one another. Ask yourself whether by achieving one you are putting another at risk of not being achieved.

What are your thoughts? What helps you shape your goals?