Goals, benchmarks, and quotas, all represent something we are trying to achieve. Most people are not accomplishing the goals they want to achieve, so what’s the deal?
According to an article on Inc.com, over ninety-percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions never accomplish them. That is a ton of people, not feeling pumped about their results. In fact, a little over forty-percent of people have never succeeded in accomplishing their goals or achieving their resolution.
I have worked in the for-profit and nonprofit world and have seen people and companies set all kinds of goals. Improve client relationships, reach more people, give more money away, or take in more money. Individuals have set goals for spending more time with God, eating healthier, exercising more, making a budget, and so forth. Most of these goals will never be brought to fruition without some extra help.
I want to focus on a few that are the major culprits in many of us not accomplishing our desired goals.
1. Goals are not specific enough.
The more specific and concrete a goal is, the more it inspires us. The most popular goal people want to achieve is to lose weight. However, the goal to lose weight is not specific.
The goal needs to be so specific that it fits in the formula x to y by time or specific frequency. So the goal of losing twenty-five pounds by Christmas, now that has something to hang your hat on. Alternatively, instead of saying, “I need to work out,” the goal should be “I’ll workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from six to seven in the morning.”
2. Goals are not staying in the forefront of your mind.
Initially, we are pretty excited about our goals, and they stay at the forefront of our minds for a short period of time. However, after a while, our goal(s) get lost in the whirlwind of our lives unless we have a way of keeping them front and center.
3. Goals are not given the needed time and resources to be accomplished.
In the pursuit of improving, we can try to take on too many goals at once. When we do this, we end up not being able to give the time and attention necessary to each goal. One of the most eye-opening realities of having too many goals came from the book 4 Disciplines of Execution.
If a team focuses on two or even three goals beyond the demands of their whirlwind, they can often accomplish them. However, if they set four to ten goals, our experience has been that they will achieve only one or two. They’ll be going backward! If they go after eleven to twenty goals in addition to the whirlwind, they will lose all focus.
Simply stated, there is a diminishing return when we add too many goals.
While there are other reasons you may not reach your goals, these are the three big ones. Now, it is time to take your goals by the horns and fix the problem with these solutions:
1. Make sure your goals are specific.
Go back through the goals you set and make sure they tell you what you want to do and include by when or how often. Remember, going on a date night with my wife or spending time with my kids is not specific, but a date night with my wife every other Friday at seven in the evening is.
2. Enlist accountability.
The first step to accountability is to keep yourself accountable by reviewing your goals weekly. I encourage you to make this a part of your weekly review. For businesses, your most important goal or two show be very clear to your team members and reinforced consistently and constantly.
You can take it a step further by enlisting someone to ask you whether you are keeping in tune with your goals. One of my clients has his team ask one another over a dozen questions weekly, and they keep track on a spreadsheet of their progress as pictured below.
3. Choose fewer goals so that you can accomplish more.
I know this may seem backward, but if you try to accomplish too much, you may end up accomplishing none of them. So go through your goals and choose the most important two or three goals that you want to accomplish. You will go further faster if you have fewer goals.
Keep in mind that there are some goals that enable you to accomplish others. For instance, if you have a goal to workout and have quiet time early in the morning, but struggle getting up early enough, simply accomplishing the goal of waking up earlier will help you accomplish the other two.
4. Decide on trade-offs.
If you add something to your life, you have to take away something else.
It is not as easy as it seems to simply add a goal to your life without subtracting something else to make room. For instance, if you love to binge watch Netflix shows late into the night, but also have a desire to wake up early in the morning, something will have to give.
As one person has said, sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love more. Yes, you may love binge-watching Netflix, but you love waking up earlier more so you can work out, write a book, read a book, or have quiet time.
You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. Decide what are the necessary trade-offs and make time for what you desire.
If you follow these four-step process to accomplish your goals, you will accomplish more of what you set out to do.
I would love to ways that have helped you accomplish your goals or what has proved challenging.