4 Ways to Set Achievable Goals
Whether you’re looking to exceed last year’s numbers or score a promotion, motivational HR posters and an Instagram feed full of “Carpe Diem” will only get you so far. Sure, a little visual inspiration doesn’t hurt, but you’re going to need a strategy and a set of basic tools to achieve any goal, personal or professional. The next time you set your sights high, consider these four tips for turning your goals into accomplishments.
1. Be S.M.A.R.T.
This time-tested acronym is a goal-setting hallmark and a favorite tool of career and life coaches. Specific – Achievable goals use specific language about the goal itself and include a clear course of action. “Increase sales” is vague, while “Increase in-stores sales among weekend shoppers by 15%” gets at the who, what, when and where of your goal. Be just as specific with the steps you’ll take to reach your goal. For example, “Reduce customer service wait time by 30%” is better than “Improve customer service.” Measurable – First, be sure that you and any other stakeholders have the same metrics for success. Second, implement a tracking system (a monthly sales report, for example) that allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your tactics. Attainable – There’s a fine line between a goal that’s aggressive and one that’s simply unrealistic. Do your research and make sure you have the time and support you need to achieve your goal. Relevant – This could also be “reality check.” Is your goal relevant to your work and/or life, or did you get sidetracked by a trend or someone else’s priorities? Ask yourself why this goal is important to you, and make sure that your answer is convincing. Time-Bound – The power of a deadline is irrefutable, so do yourself a favor and get one. Even if your goal is personal or not dictated by your company’s timeline, create a target date for reaching it.
2. Divide and conquer
Think about big, intimidating goals the same way would about moving into a new apartment. Like big goals, the process of moving your home and all of its possessions is so overwhelming that it needs to be broken up into smaller, more palatable tasks. So, three weeks before your move date you collect boxes and packing material. Two weeks out you carefully wrap, pack and label breakables. The week before the move you box up all of your books and non-essential items of clothing. And two hours before the moving truck arrives you indiscriminately shove everything else into trash bags. The point is that you can’t do everything in one fell swoop; in order to achieve a monster-sized goal, you have to split it up into more manageable mini goals.
3. Get an accountability partner
Peer pressure gets a bad rep, but its powers can be harnessed for good. If you think you could benefit from a little external motivation, ask a friend or a colleague to be your “accountability partner.” Meet on a regular basis to share your progress and ask for advice. Just knowing you have a weekly or monthly meeting coming up can help keep you on track.
4. Reward yourself
Achievement is its own reward…but a weekend trip sure does sweeten the deal. Be sure to celebrate your hard work and successes – big and small. Did you meet all your monthly sales targets? How about treating yourself to lunch at a spot that uses real silverware instead of plastic sporks? Got the big promotion you were gunning for? Maybe a wardrobe update is in order. The key is to recognize what you did right and reinforce those tactics and behaviors that led to success (while sipping margaritas on the beach, if possible). What are your go-to tips for setting achievable goals?
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.