If you care about your health, most likely you see your physician for a check-up at least once per year. As your coach (well, at least through my writings), I’d like to complete a goal check-up with you today. If you are like most leaders, you set some sort of goals for your business and team, either late last year or in January of this year. Unfortunately, if you are like most, you also haven’t paid attention to those goals much. Stuff gets in the way, you struggle with priority blocking, etc. I don’t write this to insult you or to make you feel bad. I write this because I care about you as a leader and the health of the business you lead. I also know that sometimes “stuff” gets in the way of progress.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Did you set too many and too lofty of goals? Yes, it’s possible to set too lofty and too many goals for yourself! Some goals can take months and even years to achieve. If you have too many of these, you will probably stretch yourself too thin. Ideally, you should only have a few big lofty goals at one time. You need to ensure you have the time and energy to work on them, so don’t overdo it. A good suggestion is a few killer goals and a half-dozen small goals.
2. Did you write the goals down? I am amazed at the number of people I ask to show me their goals, and they can’t produce anything. Usually, they tell me the goals are in their head and that they don’t need to write them down. I usually answer with some statistics that show it’s much more effective to write your goals down. Folks, write them down…on paper, in your journal, on a white board, or on your bathroom mirror….just get them down somewhere other than in your head.
3. Did you personalize your goals? Why do you want to accomplish the goal? How will you feel when you achieve the goal? What will it mean for you and the team you lead to achieve the goal? If you don’t have clear answers to these questions, chances are you don’t want to achieve the goal badly enough. You won’t be able to sustain the drive to achieve the goal. You need to be clear about the significance of your goals…crystal clear!
4. Are you looking at your goals every day? We humans can be forgetful, can’t we? If you don’t physically write down and keep your goals in a place you can see them everyday, chances are you’ll forget about them. “Out of sight, out of mind.” I give my clients a neat little planner they can carry in their pocket or purse. They can carry them with them wherever they go.
5. Are you adjusting your goals when necessary? Things change, people get off track, and sometimes people set goals way above their abilities. If you are checking in on your goals often enough, you can adjust and change them where necessary. It also gives you a chance to review your effort and plan. Are you really attacking the goals like you planned?
6. Are you keeping the goals to yourself? If so, why? Are you scared to share your goals out of fear, failure and humiliation? How many times did Thomas Edison fail before he got the light bulb working? Once you have written down your goals, I highly recommend you publicize them. Yes, announce them to everyone you know; family, friends, enemies, co-workers, etc. It may make you feel a bit uncomfortable, but you know what I say about that. “To change you have to get uncomfortable”.
7. Are you using a support network? While they are your goals, you don’t have to be out there on an island. This is where a good coach can really assist you. Accountability and follow-up is imperative in the goal process.
If you have gotten off-track or fallen into any of the pitfalls I mentioned, it’s up to you to put yourself in the position to make sure you still achieve your goals this year. Don’t fall victim to these seven common mistakes. If you’re reading this column, chances are you are not common.