How to Set and Reach your Personal Goals / Objectives

Management by Objectives, SMART
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Munadil Shafat
Student (MBA), Bangladesh

How to Set and Reach your Personal Goals / Objectives

At the end of each year, many of us are intrigued by the idea of new year's resolutions. While it is always better to have one than nothing, a fact about new years resolution that may surprise you is that by the second week of February, 80% of people fail to stick to their New Year's resolutions (Journal of Clinical Psychology). This points us to the fact that sticking to a goal is as important as setting them in the first place. In this post I will share some missing pieces of goal setting. Add these missing pieces and achieving your next year's goals will be a breeze:
  1. 12-WEEKS A YEAR: A year equals 365 days and that is a very long time. It's very easy to delay things and get distracted during such a long period. At the beginning we have so many days left that there's literally no loss in taking no action. But later we find out that we don't have enough time to accomplish our goals and we already failed. Thus it is important to focus on a quarter instead of a year when we set goals. When you are focusing on a quarter, you have only 12-weeks ahead. So every day counts.
  2. GOOGLE MAPS (GAP) EXERCISE: When you use Google Maps, you basically have to answer 2 questions, "Where you are now?" and "Where do you want to go?" Without answering any of these two questions, Google Maps cannot show you how to reach your destination. Same goes for our goals. However, if we set a major personal goal, that goal seems so engaging to us that we literally forget to consider where we are sitting right now. It is important to consider where you are now and do a "gap analysis" which will help design a realistic plan to achieve your goal.
  3. PLAN YOUR ACTIONS: Just having ambitious goals won't get you there, a good goal should be accompanied by a good action plan. So, after you have set your 12-weeks goals and the gap, it is time to plan how you will achieve those, keeping into consideration the result of the gap exercise. Write everything down that you need to do to achieve your goals. Then cross-off everything except those things which are most important in achieving the goal. Keep it simple. When you are doing it, ask, what do I want to achieve this month and this week for that? Setting each week's key results/milestones beforehand will make achieving your goals more engaging and interesting.
  4. BUILD A ROUTINE: Build a routine around your goals and follow it everyday. It can include some of the actions of #3 or anything that just prepares you to start working on your goal. Routine will give you momentum. Just remember that the routine should be easy and simple to maintain.
  5. BE ACCOUNTABLE: The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you tell someone else. Therefore, sharing your goal with someone else or making it public will increase the chance of its accomplishment.
Interestingly, if you think about it, this is also how most companies plan and achieve their goals. They set quarterly goals and milestones, using what is called Objectives and Key Results (OKR). They do a SWOT analysis which is a kind of gap analysis with several other dimensions. They set action plans. Their employees have routine tasks to do each day. And finally they are accountable to share their progress (or failure) with key stakeholders.

⇨Try it. Share your goal setting (and achieving) experiences in a reaction...

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