A Leader’s Guide to Setting Meaningful Goals
You are probably a high-achiever. You’ve spent time and energy setting and meeting some incredible goals—for yourself and for your team. If you are like most of my clients, you are most likely breaking records at it, too! When it comes to work, you cross one finish line after another. You get a daily sense of accomplishment (and probably a hefty load of associated stress.) You also hit “the arrival fallacy” - where you enter into a state of emptiness after reaching a big, meaningful goal. This uncomfortable state can bring you to a halt, or it can push you forward at an even faster, and physically precarious pace. Achieving goals demands two things of us before we move on to the next goal: celebration and rest.
So, what’s the solution?
It is easier to pause and celebrate each goal’s completion when we recognize it is only a step in a much larger journey, not an end in itself. The solution is embracing goals that get you excited about your business and bring meaning to your life, irrespective of the results. These goals are built on internal motivations, not external ones.
So if you publish the book you always wanted to write, but to lackluster sales, you don’t lose your joy. Instead, you can strategically explore what you learned and how to move forward. And you do it by recognizing all you achieved with the book, and resting before you move forward.
During the pause, consider what do you want to achieve in the future? Now, if you are like many of us, you set tons of goals for achievement – in your head. But you have so much to accomplish, you don’t give yourself the permission (or support) to set aside time to consider them, write them down and plan how you will achieve them with minimal stress and chaotic activity. Effective goals help you focus on what’s important - your desired result/achievement. Thus, effective goals are more than S.M.A.R.T. – they are manageable.
Consider these equations:
● Goals = achieving
● No goals = operating
Speaking of equations, you can think that goals are all about the numbers – your profitability and your productivity. But how do you set meaningful goals - the kind that makes you want to jump out of bed each morning? Without motivation there is very little profit and productivity – certainly not without a high price to pay in stress and strain.
Try these strategies:
Think about what’s important to you. Go beyond business: what work/life balance do you want to have?
Consider: family, community life, service, spirituality, fitness
How can you shape your business so that it supports your work/life balance desires?
What’s your objective? For your best results, the objective should be inspirational, ambitious, and qualitative. It should describe an outcome that you look forward to with excitement.
Think about your business plan. How can your business best support the lifestyle you want?
Consider both your immediate and long-term goals.
Keep OKR (Objective Key Result) in mind. OKR is a goal-setting methodology to set ambitious goals (“objectives”) and uses measurable benchmarks (“key results”) to track progress towards each goal.
Key results are measurable and quantitative. The key results are the specific, measurable part of the goal-setting - the steps that make things achievable.
What key results will you need to hit in order to achieve your inspirational objectives? Set 3-4 measurable results based on growth, performance, revenue, or engagement.
How can you bring that into your daily, weekly and monthly routine/activities? What tasks need to be done on the micro scale?
Make quarterly and annual time deadlines for your key results.
Bonus: What’s the One Thing You Can Do That Will Have the Biggest Impact?
Check in with your goals in a timely manner:
Daily. What are 3-5 things you can do each day that bring you towards your goals? Make these your daily non-negotiables.
Weekly. How can you measure your progress weekly? Set aside time each week to reflect about progress towards your goals.
Quarterly. Ask yourself: what is the one thing you can focus on that will have the biggest impact? Make a plan to maintain this focus in all aspects of your planning.
Setting goals doesn’t have to feel like a chore—or worse, as if you are sacrificing progress to spend some meaningful strategy time.
If this feels like work you are ready to embark on, email me at email@example.com, and let’s set up a business strategy session.