How to Set Meaningful Goals

The New Year is a perfect time to set meaningful goals. It is a natural breaking point, and represents what is to come. It is full of possibilities and potential. A time to reflect on the past, and focus on the future.

As we think about our Strengths, it is important to set goals to measure the areas we hope to grow and improve. If we don’t focus on a few areas for positive, generative change, we stagnate, and keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. Goals give you purpose, and a motivation for whatever it is you’re doing.

Before jumping too far ahead, it’s always good to look back. Aleasha has shared our process of reflection we facilitate with teams. A few of the questions (paraphrased here) seem especially appropriate as we think about what goals to set moving forward. Ask yourself;

  1. What has given you the most energy in your life this year?
  2. Who have been the most influential people in your life this year?
  3. What moments are you most proud of this year and why?

Use these questions to reflect and think about things you are thankful for, and the ways this year has been truly amazing. From there, you can lean into two or three things you want to tackle in the new year.

Set Meaningful Goals

Our team recently went through a goal setting process of our own. Without getting into specifics, the big idea we followed was that as a company, we come up with 2 – 3 (we picked two) great big audacious things we want to see massive growth in. Our facilitator mentioned that if the goals don’t make us a little nervous, they weren’t big enough.

I was reminded of a simple acronym I’ve been using for years to set meaningful goals for myself, that tie into those company goals. The best way to set goals is by making them SMART.

How to Set SMART Goals

There is a simple, common acronym that goes like this (I’ll use vague references, but they work for anything);

Specific

Your goals should state exactly what you want to do, with as much detail as possible. If you are vague, it won’t help you achieve them. The more specific you can get, the better. You really can’t be too specific here.

For example a goal like, “read more about my Strengths” isn’t very helpful. It’s a great idea, but how is it going to make you more aware of your Strengths? A more specific goal would be, “read a book about creativity this month to enhance my understanding of my Ideation theme.

Measurable

Your goals need a way to be quantified (numerically or descriptively). A measure that will signify exactly when you have achieved it. Sometimes when setting goals in life, or self-improvement sorts of things, it can be difficult to measure.

Get creative!

If your goal is to “spend more time with your family” or “find a better job that uses areas of my Strengths,” you can simply attach some sort of numerical values to them. “Eat one dinner at home with my family during the week.” Or, “schedule three informational job interviews by the end of the month.

Action-Oriented

Your goals need to have verbs tied to specific behavior. This allows you to take some form of action towards accomplishment. When you begin with an action mindset, you’re more likely to see your goals through to fulfillment.

What I mean here is that, if the goal is to, “be a better team member,” you’re not identifying an action you can take to accomplish this. “Be” isn’t actionable. A better way to state this goal is something like, “invite a new team member to lunch each week.

Realistic

Your goals need to be rooted in past performance. This allows you to understand your ability, while pushing you to the next level of achievement.

No matter how hard I work, I’m never going to be a professional marathoner. Goals should stretch you, but not kill you. To put this another way, if you have a goal to make $75k this year, and you currently make $20k, this probably isn’t realistic.

I have some pretty specific goals each month for our website. To increase our traffic, follows, likes, and subscribers by 10% each month. That’s definitely a stretch, (we have only hit it a few times in the past year), but well in line with our potential and past performance.

Time Bound

Your goals should have a date and time attached. This allows you to know the target you’re trying to hit. If you leave a goal hanging indefinitely, you’ll never reach it.

This year, we have a yearly goal, as well as quarterly ones. This makes sense because of how we’re structured as a company. As mentioned above, I have monthly goals, and even a few smaller weekly ones. The point is, you need to define when you plan to accomplish your goal.

When Are You Done?

Some say you’re never totally finished with a goal. If you’ve set the bar high enough, you will likely never reach it 100%. If you do, perhaps you set it too low. If you reach a 70 or 80% completion on this high bar mark, you may find that is good enough, and it’s time to focus on something else audacious.

Part of this thinking comes from setting goals that are so huge and awesomely audacious, that part of you know you’ll never achieve it. By setting such a high bar, you inspire something your team can get excited about. It inspire everyone to get creative about how they will contribute. They will also start tapping into areas of greater uniqueness as they try to solve this problem.

What Are your Big Goals for the Year?

Have you set meaningful goals yet? Are they SMART? Share them below. We would love to check in with you down the road to see how you’re doing.