If you were one of the estimated 3.5 billion people watching the World Cup earlier this month, you’ll have noticed the importance placed on achieving goals. Outside of soccer though, it’s a lot easier to redefine your goals and reset them from time to time.
“Goals narrow your focus, direct your attention, drive behaviors, and allow you to gain momentum,” said Beth Linderbaum, managing consultant at Right Management the global career and talent development unit within ManpowerGroup. And it isn’t just the big picture goal that makes the biggest difference “Having both short and long-term goals can be a guide as you move forward and will make sure you are going in the direction you want to go in”
Wondering how to reignite or reset your own goals? The summer slowdown is a great time to take stock of what is working for you professionally and reset your goal expectations for the second half of the year. Linderbaum said “While goal setting is a proven approach to increasing our ability to achieve results and learn new behaviors, it isn’t foolproof. Time and time again people set goals and fail to follow-through.” She offered some tips on what to do when you get stuck.
It might be time to step back and reflect on the following:
What are you doing instead?
Linderbaum says “Often times we are faced with conflicting commitments and we end up spending time and energy on other activities that likely are serving us in some way but maybe not in moving toward this new goal.” She believes that just noticing and exploring these competing commitments is a good place to start.
Are you working on the few things your boss cares most about?
“Your first priority is to thrill your boss and that’s far more likely if you deliver on things that help them achieve their goals,” according to Marc Effron, Talent Strategy Group president, entrepreneur, and author of the new book 8 STEPS TO HIGH PERFORMANCE: Focus on What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest). Effrom suggests asking your manager directly if your goals are aligned with their priorities. “Make sure you have no more than three big priorities to ensure that you can fully focus on what’s most critical.”
Are you trying to do too much?
“Biting off more than you can chew is a common mistake people make when setting goals,” according to Linderbaum. She even has a snappy reminder: Remember, goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Have you set your objectives to achieve a good job or to perform brilliantly?
“High performers measure themselves against what they think the best in their field could achieve” according to Effron. “For each of your goals, ask yourself what standard (cost, quality, speed) the best person in your field would set for this objective. Your objective shouldn’t be to produce “good enough” work – it should be to redefine what great looks like.”
Do you know where to start?
“Sometimes getting started is the hardest part,” says Linderbaum. Asking yourself “how” until you get something you can do the next day is one way of finding an easy first step to take.
What one thing could you do differently to ensure you achieve these goals?
Effron says “A high performer identifies and eliminates barriers to their performance.” He suggests asking your boss what one thing you could do more of or less of to be an even better performer in the second half. “Create a short, written action plan about how you plan to improve and ask your boss for feedback on it.” Worried about what you might hear? Effron says “It’s your call whether you want to hear advice that will make you more successful or you prefer your boss wonders why you need improvement.”
Who can be your accountability partner?
Linderbaum believes that finding someone that can ask you about progress is a simple trick for keeping yourself on track.
Don’t worry if you think you’ve blown your chance. Linderbaum refers to the “sunk cost fallacy that affects our decision making.” She says “Sometimes once we go far down a path, we have a hard time abandoning that path because of all we have already invested. There are times when cutting your losses and moving down a new path might be the better choice, so don’t be afraid to revisit and revise your goals if they don’t seem to be working for you!”