Dreams are great, but without chunking them into goals, specifically SMART goals, they will not as likely be achieved. Likewise, without a system to set, tract, and improve on your goals, they will much less likely be effective in helping your dreams come true.
I set and track four types of goals.
- Long Term: 5 years+
- Mid Term: 1 Year
- Short Term: 1 Week
- Now: Today
I set goals with the following groups of people.
- My Family
- My Team
In this blog, I am going to go over the mechanisms and systems we use to set and track these goals. Before we dive into the different timespan of the goals, let’s first dive into how to make goal setting effective for all types of goals.
Write Them Down
Writing your goals out, via type or written form creates neuron connections in your brain, allowing your brain and subconscious to start working towards your goals with you. Suddenly the little constantly happening things that may have been easily brushed aside as not relevant, now get recognized by your brain and prioritized, allowing you to achieve the goal with great effectiveness. Studies show the power of writing your goals down to be upwards of 10x more effective than having a non written goal. That’s a 1000% return on a free investment. Just start writing.
Once you write them down, you can now more easily share them with a peer, friend, spouse, boss, or a group, even publicly on a blog like Ellon did. Putting your goals out there for other people to see and read creates more connections in your brain that not only help you find things to achieve the goals but also keep your goals top of mind because the moment you see the person, or think of the people you shared the goals with, your goals will pop back into mind as well. Top of mind, top of performance. Don’t just share them however, make a pack with an accountability partner to help you stay accountable to actually achieving them.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
Make Sure They are SMART
Revisit them on a regular cadence, track performance, and modify
- Smart goals are noted as.
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
The key two items in here are measurable and time related. Once you have these two functions in a goal, you can now go back and measure your progress on a regular cadence. You can do this with an accountability partner or by yourself, both are very effective. Lets now jump into the goal time horizons
Long Term: Visioning and Business Planning
With my team and with my family, we set our horizon goals through visioning and the business planning process. These typically have a timeframe of 5-10 years. Personally I have found it helpful to employ what Ellon Musk has documented call his Master Plan. Originally published on the Tesla blog in 2006, Ellon through a blog post documented Tesla’s Master Plan over the next 10 years. He then, in 2016 wrote a Master Plan Update blog that showed how they had done against the first master plan (pretty damn close actually!) and where they were going next. I simply loved how he just wrote it out in conversational form where he saw the vision going, and so I started doing that annually myself. I am into the 2nd year of doing it, basically just updating my master plan, it changes slightly but its cool to see it stay core to its original intent while the overall tactics take slightly different turns in the journey.
Sharing it? I share this with my team, typically annually.
Making it SMART? By keeping this in a live and editable doc and updating annually you are able to track performance year over year, are you on trajectory or off, and how do you need to course correct to get there.
Mid Term: Yearly Goals
Every January first, this comes around. What are your new year’s resolutions? Every year I set personal goals the first of the year. I also do this with our family and with Ryonet and Allmade, along with their relative teams. A year is a good time frame and unit of time to measure big projects that are important, lead towards your vision, but take longer than days to complete. Personally I review these with my accountability group 1x per quarter and around the same amount of time with my family. At work, we review our major goals and initiatives monthly and track performance on what we call a bowling chart, which keeps track of the major KPI’s set for each goal.
One thing that I have started doing is an annual year in review and what’s next. This closes out what we got done in the last year and what we want to do (goals) for the upcoming year. I do this as a blog post and it typically gets sent out to all of our customers in an end of year email, talk about making goals public. I have also started keeping my goals on my phone and having siri play them to me at least 2x per week in order to keep them top of mind. These are yearly goals. I would also do this with your vision too every quarter or so. The point of this is to keep these goals top of mind and your progress to achieving them thus, so you don’t get to the end of a quarter or a year and be like, what happened to the year. I didn’t get done what I wanted to??
Short Term: This Week
I like the time span of a week to keep track of what are the most important tasks/goals you are going to knock out this week, which helps you to your annual goals and towards you vision. I keep track of these goals on a goal board aka a SCRUM board which buckets things in do, doing and done. Do are things I want to get done this week, this year, etc. Doing is what I am going to work on today, and done, is done. I share these with my entire leadership team, influences, and my wife (about 22 people in total). I have my leadership team do the same thing to all of their peers and direct reports. These go out first thing on Monday AM! I balance this each Sunday or Monday AM with my calendar and also call out my week for these team members too.
What are you going to get done and what do you have to do? I find the good old task list to be the most effective at managing this. I personally use my note pad and check boxes to keep track of this or sometimes I send myself an email. The point is, write it down, ensure it fits in the priority of the day, and get it done! If I don’t get it done that day I typically transfer it over to my week board.
Running a system of making your goals helps you turn the goal process into a habit, which then will happen with consistency and regularity without using mental resources to get done. Habit creation is actually the most powerful and overall effective way to grow into the person and leader you want to become.