Adding the why back into goal setting

goal setting tips

When it comes to goal setting, people are more likely to have business goals rather than personal ones.

My approach is to ensure leaders are able to recognise and manage the inevitable imbalance between achieving both work and life goals. People use popular frameworks such as SMART or Objective Key Results (OKR), often missing an important step, which is the why.

Whether your aim is business or personal goal setting, these tips are framed to help seek clarity and understanding the purpose behind goals.

It doesn’t matter which framework you use, as long as you know your reasons why your goals are important to you.

Clarity of vision

Goals are short term, visions are not. Goals are specific and quantifiable, while visions are broad, all-encompassing ideas of how you want your life or business. Visions capture how you want your goals to look, feel and even be.

Goals lack a deeper meaning if they are not paired with visions that provide purpose and significance. Setting goals without a vision is crazy.

Firstly, you should have a compelling vision that your goals are embedded within, which will drive more lasting and meaningful achievement and progress.

Inevitably, goals can become self-defeating if there is a myopic focus. Holding fast to a single vision enables adaptability and resilience to what is important in this fast changing and distracting world.

Clarity of purpose

One integral question we need to start off with when undertaking goal setting and goal achievement is why. This could be answered by your organisation’s mission statement or clarifying your own role.

There are two main reasons that setting a clear and compelling why is so powerful:

  • The first is inspired and purposeful action. Which means getting clear on why you are doing what you are doing. When you have a powerful why attached to your goals, you know exactly what and whom you are doing it for.
  • The other is sacrifice. When you have a powerful and compelling why, you will be much more likely to pay the price to achieve the goal.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche sums this point perfectly: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’

If you have not defined your purpose then you are missing one of the most important motivators for goal achievement. As entrepreneur Peter Voogd said: ‘Reasons come first, results come second.’

Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why is this goal important to me to achieve?
  • Why am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
  • Why am I able to keep going in the face of adversity?

Answering these questions will begin to craft your why, which becomes your purpose, and helps to give you clarity.

At all levels of organisations, role clarity is critical. Team members need to have a perfectly clear understanding of everyone’s role expectations of them and the reasons their roles exist in the organisation in the first place.

The responsibility to ensure the understanding of roles and create an effective team structure rests squarely with the leader.

Most importantly, however, especially for personal goals: Share them with family. A number of people use vision boards and all sorts of great tricks to direct their personal goals. Too many times when asked what their partner thinks, they’ve said ‘Oh no I haven’t shown them’.

These decisions and your goals affect their lives too. By having a joint purpose you gain an extra level of investment, and a new sounding board for further ideas and support.

Clarity of importance

The point of goals is not to successfully complete tasks we blindly set ourselves, nor is it to tick off goal checklists or bucket lists of trivialities.  What truly counts is the ability to master the right kind of big goals, by embedding your goals within your business vision and purpose.

Angela Brown Oberer said ‘You’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be’. Without knowing the purpose behind your goals and what the end result should look like, you’re stuck with objectives that don’t mean anything in the long run.

The harsh reality is that your true goals, the ones that are most important to you, take the most effort, dedication and sacrifice to achieve.

Your compelling why will allow you to endure the challenges and obstacles that are sure to arise. When others quit and give up, you will develop the agility, resilience and fortitude to keep going.

You can only accomplish those kinds of goals when you’re willing to question assumptions regularly and re-evaluate as necessary, so you achieve what counts in a handful of major elements that really matter.

Clarity of how

Bringing together clarity of vision, purpose and importance to then determine how you will approach your goal setting and achievement is the final step.

There are lots of goal setting frameworks such as SMART and OKR that turn the exercise into a process that’s easy to follow. However, you can easily follow the mantra of Steve Covey: Begin with the end in mind.

This reminds you to begin each day, task or project with a clear line of sight of your desired ultimate direction and destination. You then have to be agile enough to constantly flex and be proactive, which means as long as you are making the right things happen, you’re getting close to achieving your goals.

A personal mantra (what I live by) or a personal legacy vision statement (what people would say about me at my funeral) is a simple but powerful way for keeping you in check.

Clarifying the vision, the purpose, importance and method, helps to turn your goals in to actions.

 


Trent BartlettBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Trent Bartlett