We’ve all had hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations. Hopefully, you do right now. As a kid, I always dreamed of being a professional baseball player. From about the age of nine through high school, baseball was my number one priority. I played for the most competitive team in the state, my parents paid thousands of dollars for private lessons and the little free time I had was spent in the weight room working to gain any edge possible. Did my dream come true? No, not even close.
In fact, looking back now I think I may have been the only player from my team that didn’t play either professional or college ball. Did I lack the talent? No. Did I work hard enough? Without a doubt. So, what held me back?
The problem was that I lacked defined and measurable goals to hold myself accountable. When I suffered a serious injury my senior year of high school, instead of adjusting and establishing new goals to be successful, I abandoned the baseball dream despite all the years I had dedicated to the sport. Did I plan to walk away from baseball? No. But, did I learn from it? Most definitely.
We have all heard about the importance of setting goals. We’ve heard things like, “it’s what successful people do,” and "goals give you motivation and purpose". If we know this, why aren’t we doing it?
Over the past few years, research from Gallup has revealed that only 30 percent of employees in our country are ‘engaged’ at work, while the other 70 percent are either ‘not engaged’ or worse, ‘actively disengaged.’ That’s over one-hundred million people that are not interested in what they are doing and, I would bet, it was never their goal to have a job that they didn't care about.
Without specific goals, it becomes easy to feel adrift in the world. You’ll lack vision, direction and you may end up feeling as though you’re wasting all of your effort and time on things that are ultimately of no value to you.
Think about it. Chances are that you would never pack your bags and head to the airport without a destination in mind; plane tickets, a rental car and accommodations. So, why journey through your life this way? Whether it be related to your health, job, education or finances, establishing a goal properly provides a framework and benchmark for measuring success. Well defined goals provide us focus, motivation, and the ability to navigate the direction of our lives.
How do we establish convicting and well defined goals? Make them SMART goals.
SMART goals is a mnemonic that is commonly used in business and was hammered into me durning my graduate studies. Each letter represents a word that your goal should maintain in order to make it clear and reachable.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound is the SMART goal criteria. Peter Drucker's Management by objectives (MBO) concept is commonly credited for it.
Lets unpack each criteria.
Specific - The more specific your goal, the easier time you will have answering the remaining four criteria. What exactly do you want to accomplish? Try answering the famous five W’s to make your goal more specific, who, what, when, where and why.
Measurable - What will it look or feel like when you achieve your goal? How will you know when it has been accomplished? Establishing this will help you break your goal down into measurable components.
Achievable - This is where you need to be real with yourself. Does your goal make sense? By all means, aim big but set yourself up for success by keeping it realistic.
Relevant - Ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal. Would achieving this goal propel you forward? Does it seem worthwhile? Do you possess the skills, tools and resources needed for accomplishing it? If not, do you have goals established to help you obtain the needed skills as well?
Time-bound - Give yourself a deadline. Establishing a deadline will hold you accountable and help apply the necessary pressure to keep you motivated and moving forward. It's important to understand that unforeseen circumstances may arise and timelines can be flexible. However, do your best to set specific deadlines and stick to them. One trick, when setting a timeline, is to break a large goal down into a series of smaller goals - you may be surprised how quickly your goal is attainable.
Poet Bill Copeland says it best, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” Personal development is a lifelong process. I challenge you to take the time for a personal inventory and ask yourself what is most important to you? What are the things you want most in life? What do you want to achieve in your profession? What goals do you have for your family? What personal accomplishments are you striving for?
Once identified, write them down as SMART goals and relentlessly pursue each one until you score.
Until next time,
Co-Founder and CFO, RAM
Gallo, Carmine. “70% Of Your Employees Hate Their Jobs.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Feb. 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2011/11/11/your-emotionally-disconnected-employees/.
Gallup, Inc. “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work.” Gallup.com, 8 Oct. 2013, news.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx.
Mind Tools. “SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable.” Time Management Training From MindTools.com, www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm.