Goals Don’t Have to Suck

Leadership Tip: Goals Don't Have to Suck

Thankfully, the stomach bug didn’t ruin our entire holiday, and I got to see many friends over the last couple of weeks.

One thing that stood out was the number of people who talked and complained about goals. 

  • My friends in leadership roles were lamenting about having to set annual goals and help others set their own goals.
  • My friends who had attempted to make changes last year were sharing their disappointment in feeling like they hadn’t made any progress and wondered about the point of making goals in the first place. 
  • My friend skimming through my leadership program materials rolled their eyes and sighed at the SMART goals section. 

But the thing is, it’s not really goals that suck.  It’s usually the way we think about and use goals that makes them suck.    

We tend to create big, vague goals, often with no connection to anything that means anything to us, file our goal plan in our desk (if we bother to write it out at all), forget about the goal, remember the goal six months later, kick ourselves for failing, feel crummy, announce that goals suck.  Repeat.   

Want to get the benefits of goals without the burden?  Here are some things to consider:

Pick something that will alleviate stress, give you peace of mind, or improve your life in some other way. 

Look for patterns.  Aim to eliminate, increase, or reduce something.  Or even keep something the same.  People consistently missing deadlines and creating extra work for you?  Create a goal to have everyone meet deadlines.  It’s unlikely that everything is going perfectly in your world, and there’s something that can be made better with a goal. 

Aim big, plan small. 

Big goals need to be broken down into smaller goals.  Smaller goals need to be broken down into even smaller goals.  Create a plan that builds up to your larger goals.  Want to work out five times a week for 30 minutes at a time?  Consider starting with one or two times a week or five times a week for 5 minutes at a time, adding more as you feel more motivated. 

Be specific. 

The word “more” came up a few times in those holiday goal conversations.  This “wiggle word” sets us up for failure.  Get clear on what “more” means, and again, plan small. 

Look at your goals plan as a working document. 

Let failure teach you what adjustments you need to make.  Our thoughts around failure play a huge part in how we feel about goals.  If we see failure as bad and something to be avoided at all costs, goals suck – because it’s almost guaranteed that we experience some failure when we try to achieve something.  But if you go into goal-setting accepting that failure is part of the process and is essential to helping you refine your goal plan, goal-setting becomes a much more enjoyable and successful process. 

Create a structure for success. 

Goal plans tucked in binders, your desk, the pile on your desk, a folder on your computer, or your head become forgotten.  Get your plan somewhere you can see it.  Then do things that help you keep looking at it, talking about it, celebrating it, and adjusting it.  Use post-it notes, schedule regular meetings with yourself in your calendar, plan regular meetings with others.

If you’d like a Goal Plan template, check out my free download at https://melanietaylorconsulting.com/resources/downloads/.