Goals for the New Year
Have you ever noticed that the gym is always the most crowded in January?
Goals are only helpful if they are written and written well. The problem with an unwritten goal is that it gets forgotten – the palest ink is stronger than the greatest memory. But. Not just forgotten, altered. Unwritten goals move away from the original demand that would strengthen one for achievement like air leaking out of a tire. Or like water leaking into a ship one moves slowly toward something not quite so demanding, or threatening to sink the effort.
When writing goals it is wise to make them SMART. The SMART goal is…
S – Specific – The more specificity in a goal, the clearer it is. Ask who, what, when, where, why & how.
M – Measurable – Can your goal be measured? Measurement not only defines it evaluates. Measurement answers the who, what, when, where, why & how much questions with
A – Achievable – Is the goal achievable or too much too soon? Breaking oceanic goals into little islands creates many destinations of paradise.
R – Relevant – Is each task connected to the end goal you have in mind? Don’t assume your island is clearly in the ocean. Check the perspective of others.
T – Time Bound – Set a deadline for yourself to achieve the goal. We do live in a linear environment. Setting a deadline provides the ability to see either progress or the lack of progress.
SMART and STRETCH
While SMART goals are a foundational starting point, it is possible to write even a SMART goal in such a way that you simply spend more time at your desk and get home later without achieving anything of real value. There is a connection between goals and productivity if the goal you set stretches you outside
your typical comfort zone and into a new level of hidden ability.
In his article, The Correlation Between Setting Goals
And Becoming Productive, Vishal Kataria illustrates the concept of a Stretch goal by telling the fascinating historical account of Japan’s post WWII recovery through the building of the “bullet train.”
In 1955, the railway ministry required of its engineers a train which would travel 120 miles per hour. The engineers objected, pointing to the possibility of centrifugal force derailing the cars in mountainous turns. Tunnels were considered too expensive and time consuming to build.
But the department head insisted on no compromise. The result was the world’s first bullet train which made the 320 mile trip from Tokyo to Osaka in 3 hours 58 minutes, averaging 120 miles an hour. An amazing achievement accomplished by hundreds of innovations, each innovation contributed to the overall desired goal.
This success led to bullet trains operating between other Japanese cities and fueling the very economic expansion which the country needed. And it nicely illustrates the need of a goal to stretch the mind and skills of those involved.
The definition of a stretch goal is a goal which “cannot be achieved by incremental or small improvements but requires extending onself to the limit to be actualized.” (Business Dictionary)
While Stretch goals have a place, they do not fit every situation every time. Imagine the panic a Stretch goal wrongly introduced would produce, crushing morale and destroying unity. The Stretch goal must be presented, not as a replacement to the SMART goal, but as the motivator and activator to the SMART goal.
Both the SMART goal and the Stretch goal have a place in your arsenal of achievement. Not complacent. Not overwhelmed. The goals that will bring you forward in your life and career, can be developed to carry all of the measurability necessary to track progress. But they can also be fitted to the particular time, place and people involved. Circumstances do matter. As does reality. And enjoying the journey.
Welcome to 2017!