I don’t know about you, but when I don’t reach a goal it really annoys me. As much as I don’t want to admit it, there are a number of unfinished goals in my past. I would venture a guess that if we pulled back the curtain on most people, we’re all in the same boat in this category. Learning how to accomplish goals is as much of a process as is learning to do leadership well.
There are a number of reasons for us not finishing them. It could be poor time management. Perhaps we weren’t very realistic and so we simply weren’t in touch with reality when we set that particular goal. Maybe there were things that just came out of left field and knocked us so far off course, we thought it wasn’t a worthy goal anymore. However, the most common reason for us not realizing our goals is that we are clueless and we ignorantly march on reveling in our cluelessness.
You may be ready to punch me in the face right now for calling you clueless. I mean after all, you do have a degree and 10 years of experience in a leadership position. You have set some amazing goals for your team/business unit/whatever and they have been profitable for your organization. Who am I to say otherwise?
Well…I am not just throwing YOU under the bus. We’re all guilty of this problem, me included, so let’s throw it on the table and dissect it a bit. Where we let our cluelessness reign supreme is in how we perceive our goals and the fulfillment of the same. We tend to ask ourselves the wrong questions about what our goals are when compared to our actions and focus. The REAL question we need to be asking is: Is my goal something to do or a by-product of doing something else?
There are 4 key things you must do in order to ensure you know which is which…and stop being clueless about your goals.
- Drop the emotion – Take it from a very intense and passion-driven person, you HAVE to objectively look at your goals no matter how giddy and excited you are about them. Our emotions are great, but they have a place and time (along with appropriate magnitude at certain times). Not keeping them in check properly will let our clueless flag fly high. Not easy, but absolutely necessary.
- Prioritize – Most goals require more than one act or deed to accomplish them. Many times you will depend on the support and help of others. As much as we would like, everyone can’t start and finish at the exact same time. If you know even the slightest bit about project management, use it! If you don’t, do some research to have a basic understanding of it. There are times when doing one thing actually accomplishes another part of your goal (this is the by-product part). If you focus on finishing the 2nd thing without really dealing with the 1st thing, you’ll drive yourself dippy.
- Manage your calendar – This isn’t just a time management issue. It’s quite easy to become so excited about the prospect of reaching our goals that we place an unrealistic time frame on things. Sometimes there is no need for a time frame, but rather a commitment to finish a series of smaller goals so the bigger goal is nothing more than a decision. The traditional thought on goal development means they are time bound, but it doesn’t have to be down to the week. Sometimes we need a reasonable range.
- Don’t be a lone hero – If you’re goal is one where you don’t want to share it with the world (at least not yet), then have some serious conversations with those close to you. Craft a strategy based on those with whom you decide to share. See how you can work together to get things moving. It’s absolutely amazing how people just begin to appear once you have actually begun something. You WILL need help at some stage in the game, so don’t deceive yourself into thinking you don’t.