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How to Set a Relevant Goal

Sharlyn Lauby by Sharlyn Lauby   February 02

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If you haven’t seen it, Jonathan Benhamou, CEO and co-founder of PeopleDoc wrote a great post about New Year’s resolutions. You can check it out here. While I was reading the post, it reminded me of goal setting.

I like to think of New Year’s resolutions as goals. If you think about it, a goal is defined as “a desired result.” And a resolution is “a firm decision to do something.” So they are really very similar. That’s also why it might be a challenge to keep New Year’s resolutions. I read a statistic once that only 8 percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

It makes me wonder - is the secret to accomplishing resolutions to think of them as goals? To set them similar to a goal-setting process and monitor them the same way. Here are six things to remember when setting goals that apply to many personal and workplace situations:

  1. The goal needs to matter. It needs to have significance or, otherwise, it can easily be discarded. Let me add that it needs to matter to the person setting the goal. Having the same goal as everyone else means you have other people’s goals. When setting a goal, ask yourself what the goal means to you.

  2. Goals need to be realistic. I’m all for stretch goals and pushing outside your comfort zone. But goals must be attainable in order to succeed. Otherwise, people will just declare them unrealistic and not work on them. It’s also important to have the right number of goals. Too many goals at the same time can overwhelm people – which prevents the goal from being accomplished.

  3. Goals need to have allocated resources. Whether that’s time or money or both, typically goals involve dedicated resources and effort. When businesses set a goal, they allocate resources to make sure the goal is accomplished. The same applies to individual goals. If the goal matters, then making time in your schedule or in the budget to achieve the goal will make sense. 

  4. People need to buy-into goals. In order for a goal to be accomplished, every level of the organization needs to support it. I know there are times when the company will want an employee to set a specific goal. That’s fine as long as the employee wants the same goal. Don’t simply mandate goals to employees. Talk to them and get them to buy-into the goal as well.

  5. It needs to be documented. Once the goal is established, the resources are allocated and the team is behind it, write the goal down. Share it with everyone. Organizational goals are often documented in strategic or operational plans and communicated throughout the company. Employee goals are documented in performance reviews. Personal goals can be documented in journals or planners. Writing it down holds you accountable.

  6. Lastly, goals need to be celebrated. When you accomplish a goal, it’s a big deal. When you set a goal, it’s important to also set the measurement of success. What will it look like when the goal is accomplished? Then when that moment is reached, plan to celebrate. Maybe it’s taking 5-minutes to dance in your office (all by yourself) or it’s lunch with the team. But celebrating is important. You’ve earned it.

 

Organizations and individuals talk about goal setting on a regular basis. It’s important to our personal and professional success to have things we’re trying to accomplish. It can keep us focused. The key to goal setting success is having a relevant goal setting process that makes goals attainable.

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Sharlyn Lauby
Sharlyn Lauby

Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a South Florida based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent. Sharlyn sees human resources as a strategic partner - the marketing department for a company’s internal clients rather as administrative. During her 20+ years in the profession, she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality. Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, Readers Digest, Men’s Health and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and workplace issues.

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