It’s January, which means that many of us are working toward 2017 resolutions. We’re ready to tackle a new year and make it the best one yet. We’ll be a new person, kick bad habits to the curb, and exercise five days a week.
Or will we?
A recent Harvard Business Review article states that when resolutions fail, it’s often because they lacked a clear pathway to success. For example, if the resolution is to “be physically fit,” there is little to no clear guidance on the practical steps taken to achieve that.
As we reach mid-January and the temptation to slack on resolutions increases, I thought I’d share a few tips for goal-setting that we use at Ecosystems.
Identify the Purpose
We set resolutions because we want to improve ourselves. But after a few weeks, the vague desire to “improve” is likely not enough to keep us driven.
Instead, create a clarifying purpose statement behind the goal. What is the reason for the goal? In what way will the achievement of this goal bring value to my life or business? Identifying this can help continually invigorate a sense of passion or interest in working toward it.
“Your value made clear” is our overarching purpose at Ecosystems. Every goal and metric branches from this purpose. When our 2017 annual plan was released, we spent time as a company discussing our purpose statement and how it affects our goals this year, as well as how it affected the past 17 years of the company’s history. Not only is this inspiring, but it unites us in a common purpose–no matter what team we’re on or what our specific goals are.
Establish Mutual Accountability
The Journal of Applied Social Psychology revealed that perceived accountability positively affects an individual’s performance in achieving goals. Having peers that are aware of and committed to keeping you focused on your goals will increase your motivation to do so. It will also help keep you in check during periods of lapse in focus or ambition.
In this spirit, we have a whiteboard on a central wall in our office, called the “Big Board.” On the board, we track the progress of each team’s goals. The board’s public setting holds everyone accountable to and mutually aware of the goals and our progress. Additionally, we set weekly goals aimed at furthering our progress within our individual accounts. Meetings are held three times per week to review the status of those goals, which help us to both redirect focus to where our priorities lie and keep us accountable for whether or not we are doing what’s needed to achieve them.
Focus on Outcomes
Consider some popular new year’s resolutions:
· Exercise more often
· Spend less
· Lose weight
· Get organized
· Spend more time with family
The only challenge with these resolutions is that they aren’t outcome-focused. At the end of the year, will I be able to look back and clearly determine whether or not I “spent less” or “exercised more”?
As Chad Quinn, our CEO and Co-founder says, the best way to know we’re improving is to set outcome-oriented goals. If a weekly goal of mine is to “write a blog post,” to make it outcome oriented, I should re-phrase it to say: “By Friday, one blog post is written.” On Friday, I’ll be able to determine whether I achieved it or not. Without this type of mentality, there is too much gray area–and with gray area comes room for delay or a false sense of progress.
Make it Achievable
The last key I’ve learned from goal setting at Eco is to make it achievable. For example, if I made 500 business cases last quarter, I would want to benchmark my goal for next quarter with that number in mind. We spend time making goals realistic, but difficult enough to be working toward something and not achieving it half way through the quarter. An ideal goal will require hard work throughout the quarter to achieve, but will also be based on historical data so as not to become overwhelming or unrealistic.
Goal-setting is an integral part of growth; both in business and in life. However, if it is not done in the right way, good intentions will remain just that instead of reality.