In the VIDEO: 5 Tips Towards Setting Actionable Goals, Dr. David Mason covers five points and five tips to create actionable goals to further your professional career.
1. Be clear about WHAT you want to accomplish.
The very first step, before anything else, towards setting actionable goals is to be incredibly clear about WHAT your goal actually is. The reason is that poorly made goals can be gamed.
How about being a better listener? That’s a noble goal to pursue so I make my goal and one of the ways that I put it into action is to not interrupt people when they’re talking. So I sit back, let someone talk and then say what I was going to say anyway. I wasn’t really listening; I was just NOT talking.
What about losing weight? There’s a goal we’ve all tried at one point or another. If I just want to lose weight, I can still eat unhealthy, just less of it. I’m not really any better off health-wise and in fact might even be worse off.
In fact, the fastest way to lose weight is honestly just to cut off a leg. But that would be ridiculous, right, even though it reaches the goal?
Figure out how to cheat. If you can cheat, then it wasn’t a good goal. Be more specific about the actual WHAT that you want to accomplish.
2. Determine WHY you want to work towards this goal.
Be brutally honest. The goal should never actually be your goal! What is the result you hope to achieve? Remember, the goal is a tool and a measuring stick designed to help you arrive at that result.
Ask yourself, “who benefits?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “ME!” then you need to have a reckoning. Saying you want to be a better listener is one of those things that sounds great, but if your honest answer is because your boss told you to, or that it keeps the peace at the office, then you do not have a strong enough motivation to sustain you when the going gets rough.
If your motivation is not aligned with the goal, you need to find a way to bring your motivation closer to the goal, or your goal closer to the motivation. But in either case, don’t proceed until this part is in place.
Now let’s say you made this big hairy audacious goal and you’re super excited about it. That’s great! Shoot for the stars I always say. How do you plan on doing this exactly?
3. Determine HOW you will reach this goal.
Let’s take your awesome goal. You have a great goal which is super clear in purpose and you’re pumped to accomplish it. Now, take that goal and chop it in half. Now, chop it in half again. Now, chop it in half again. Go ahead and keep your super goal, but you’re going to need to create some sub-goals along the way.
Think like a video game. That is to say, make your goals manageable. Video games are so addictive precisely because you are always accomplishing something. If you finish a day and you don’t feel you made progress on something important to you, then you don’t have manageable goals.
You know what video games also do incredibly well? They track your progress and give you constant feedback. In real life you need to ask yourself, WHEN will you know you have succeeded? This actually accomplishes two things:
- It gives you a deadline
- It forces you to be specific about the goal
Otherwise when the time came, how would you know you actually accomplished it? The terminology we use is “actionable steps” or “tangible tasks.”
4. Plan WHEN will you do it.
To help you with the WHEN, is to redefine the WHEN. For example, think of the different types of time you can use. You could make a deadline, or you could make a period of time to accomplish something, like Q2; or the WHEN could be an event, like team meetings or every morning when you walk in. Every goal is different, so I can’t give you suggested timeframes. This should be a discussion where you bring someone in to help you.
5. WHO do you need to help you?
What resources will make your goal seeking behavior more fruitful? Research shows that goals are much more likely to be achieved when there is someone else involved, even if that someone else is just a social support, cheerleader type.
Don’t ignore the WHO when trying to find resources. I phrased it this way on purpose. Most of the time we think in terms of keeping goals to ourselves or pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. But this is the wrong way to approach it. Always find someone else to help you in some way.
So to recap, don’t forget the WHAT, WHY, HOW, WHEN, and WHO and you will be well on your way to successful, actionable, goal achievement.
Take a look at more videos to assist in building a better organization:
- VIDEO: 5 Employee Engagement Best Practices
- VIDEO: Employee Satisfaction and Engagement. What’s the Difference?
- VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement
- VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching