Sometimes it can feel like “goal” has become a meaningless word. Something vague that you roll your eyes at and know is destined to be ignored. Almost like a New Year’s resolution.
But here’s the thing. Goals are important. We need them. They are the way we grow, the way we stay on track, and the way we measure success. Without goals, business pursuits, personal gratification, life – it can all feel overwhelming.
So, let’s take a look at re-claiming goals, specifically for business. Harnessing them for good and turning them into something meaningful. We’re going to look at how to set goals, how to keep them, how to appreciate them, and if necessary, when to change them.
When you think about goals, there are two designations that go hand-in-hand which should immediately come to mind: short-term and long-term. Think of short-term and long-term goals as two sides of the goal-setting coin. They are necessarily different in type and scope, but both equally important.
Long-term goals often feel big and broad. That’s okay. While they shouldn’t be unrealistic or unachievable, they should be things that are going to take a little while to work towards. More than that, they should contain the same core values as your company. When you think about what your company’s mission is, its purpose for existing, this should both inform and align with your long-term goals.
Short-term goals should be more targeted and specific. They should be items that can be acted on presently, with measurable metrics for success or failure. They should also be directly related to achieving your long-term goals. Think about your long-term goals as a river to be crossed, and your short-term goals as the stepping stones that will take you there.
An important part of actually keeping and achieving the goals you set, and not just letting them fall by the wayside like a gym membership in February, is to create check-ins. Schedule a time along the path of your long-term goals where you can stop and assess, take stock of what short-term goals you’ve achieved and where you’ve fallen short. And be honest with yourself. Lying about how effective you’ve been in achieving your goals is really only hurting you, and is going to result in devaluing the whole process.
If all you’re ever doing is setting goals and setting goals and setting goals, you aren’t going to feel very motivated to keep executing those goals. An important part of setting strong, effective business goals is actually taking time to stop and recognize when you’ve achieved some of them. This is especially true for your employees, who will appreciate knowing that their goal-achieving efforts have been recognized. And everyone will feel that much more motivated to keep going and achieve the next goals.
Finally, it’s crucial to recognize that sometimes goals need to change. This might be because it turns out the goals were non-specific or unrealistic, or maybe because there’s been a change in the market or the economy. Whatever it is that causes the situation to change, goals can’t be so rigid that they are unchangeable. And changing your goals isn’t the same thing as falling short of them. Goals don’t need to have a success or failure dynamic. They are something that should be positive inspiration of what you want to work towards. And if they aren’t having the desired effect, maybe it’s time to examine them and see if you can come up with some goals the feel more right to work toward from the current situation.