Setting Achievable Goals

Goal Setting for a New Year

Posted January 8, 2020

So, a new year, 2020 is upon us and I’m often asked by leaders how to set effective goals for a new year. First, this is where self-reflection really makes this process much more effective and realistic to achieve. As many of you know I’m a huge proponent of journaling (and no it isn’t the “dear diary” stuff of teenage girls), I’m talking mature, self-reflection of how you handled professional and personal situations of import in your life so that you can review and learn from them. It’s why every attendee of an Intentional Leadership class receives a “starter” journal to get them in the habit of doing just that – writing about their experiences as a leader.  So, if you have been writing in your journals on a regular basis, you have a record of what you have seen as areas needing improvement for you to advance as a leader and, hopefully a list of possible focus areas for new year goals.

In this post, I will share with you some thoughts on how I have done this in my leadership journey and what I’ve found works effectively. First, I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the concept of S.M.A.R.T. when setting goals: make them Specific; make them Measurable; make them Achievable; make them Relevant to your leadership; and finally, are they Timebound. If any of these aspects of SMART are not clearly defined, the goal is likely going to fail. It’s why most new year’s resolutions fail.

Goal setting only works if you are “all-in” in your leadership. The goals you set must stretch you and must be specific to each area of your life you wish to focus on. When you are new to the process, I recommend picking one personal goal and one professional goal to work on for a short period of time. It might look something like this:

Personal – to make sure I eat dinner with my family at least 3 times each week.

Professional – to read one book that grows me a leader each month (if you are not a reader) and maybe one book per week if you are a reader.

So what to do if you are more advanced and want to really work on multiple areas at one time? Recently, I read an article by Dr. Kenneth Acha, who wrote about the three types of goals: outcome, process and performance goals. Each goal varies from the other based on the amount of control you wish to have. For example, we typically have the most control over process goals, while outcome goals give us the least control. An example of this would be NCAA sports. A coach can set a goal for the team of winning their division and conference championship knowing they have the most control over these based on talent and player health, but stop short of setting a goal of winning a national championship because the coach has little control over whether they will even be in a position to compete. What the coach knows, is by setting the division and conference goals, they are giving their team achievable and specific targets to hit that put them in the best position to compete for a national championship.

The second set of goals are process goals, Acha explains that process goals allow you to set the “procedures” that will put you in a position to achieve the desired success or outcome. Continuing with the NCAA analogy, this would mean how much practice the team will do, how they will do it? What drills they will run? What scrimmages will they do to challenge the team to be it’s best? What nutritional program and study assistance with the student athletes require to help them stay on target physically, mentally and emotionally? What will coaches do to impact player mindset? All of these do not predict the outcome, but the develop a specific strategy and process for how the players will condition themselves to be in position to achieve those outcome goals. Finally, Acha talks about Performance goals or the standards you will use to achieve your goals. So, the NCAA team might say we will win our division and conference titles by training ourselves mentally and physically daily so that we are in peak condition to compete and win our division and conference championship.

Visually it might look something like this:

Goal setting involves setting a series of short-term goals that are achievable. For example, if your goal is to lose weight this year, then start by setting a short-term goal that levels up from where you are. If you haven’t been exercising, then start by committing to working out a set number of days each week for 30 minutes each. Try to stick with it first for 3 weeks. Studies have shown that it takes about 21 days to change any habit. Then level up again. For the next 3 weeks try eliminating sugar on all days but Saturday and continuing your exercise. Then add another and another for each successive 3 weeks. The same can hold true for any area of your life be it your relationship with your spouse, your kids or your co-workers. Pick one thing you feel is important and focus on executing consistently for at least 3 weeks. Soon it will become part of your daily routine.

Goal setting can be fun when it’s done right. Don’t sit down this week and write a list of resolutions that sound great but won’t go anywhere! Instead, really reflect on what you want to improve this year as a leader at work and in life. Pick one behavior related to that, that you can change and do it for 3 weeks and then add another behavior to it. After a few months, you’ll be surprised how much your mindset has changed and how much you’ve accomplished.

I want to hear what some of your goals are for 2020 as leaders. Please share in the comments or on Twitter at @LHLN by Dean Crisp.

I look forward to seeing each of you gain clarity in 2020 as to the type of leader you wish to be.



Article by Dr. Kenneth Acha


Image result for goal setting

“Goal setting can be fun when it’s done right.”


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