Many of us set personal and professional goals at the start of the year, but how many of us stick with them? As we’ve reached the start of a new year, there’s are renewed opportunity to evaluate and retune your aims, develop a plan of action and establish deadlines to meet any goal – no matter how large or small.
If the topic of goal setting is familiar to you, then you may already know that 80% of resolutions aren’t achieved, and most people quit by February. Unpacking the reasons why some may not reach their goals is just as important as learning how to set achievable ones. Someone who knows a thing or two about goal setting is IT Partners Managing Director Andrew Johnson. We speak to him about the most important factors to consider when setting goals and explore his resource recommendations that will help guide you along the way.
The word ‘goal’ gets thrown around a lot. However, put simply, a goal is:
Something you want to achieve + Deadline you want to achieve a result by = Goal.
Goals allow you to see the bigger picture and having them helps to provide direction and purpose for any aspect of your personal and professional life. Achieving goals can become more attainable when you establish clear objectives for them. By creating a well-defined plan of action and setting deadlines, you can put yourself in a better position to accomplish them.
Effective goal setting begins with picking goals you are actually passionate about. Making sure they are realistic but also challenging at the same time. When you pick goals, it makes sense to break them down into smaller specific steps, for example, say you wanted to save $10K towards your first home deposit by the end of the year. You can break this down further by saying, “I plan to save $200 a week of my pay cheque into my savings account”.
You’ve identified your goals and road-mapped how you’re going to achieve them, however, that is just the beginning…achieving them is a whole other ball game. “Where are you now on a scale of 1 to 10? Ten means that you have reached your goal completely and 1 means the opposite. How will you notice that you are just one step higher on the scale? And how else?” -Coaching Plain & Simple by Kirsten Dierolf, Daniel Meier, Peter Szabó. Regularly checking in serves as a valuable reminder of your ‘why’ and allows you to evaluate any challenges you may encounter, ensuring that you remain accountable. This can include various approaches, such as engaging in discussions with a friend or colleague or writing updates down in a journal. One important step that is sometimes missed is rewarding yourself for small wins along your journey.
In your opinion, what are the most important factors to consider when setting goals?
I think it's really important to start with some bigger questions, what are your values, where do you want to be longer term, and then to start a list of big goals.
Sahil Bloom summarised the process as: “The new framework for goal setting involves five core steps: (1) Set the Stage, (2) Identify ‘Big, Hairy, Ambitious, Goals’ (BHAG), (3) Work Backwards, (4) Establish Process Goals, (5) Track& Adjust”.
How should people stay motivated and focused when working towards their goals?
Andrew Huberman has some excellent resources on the neuroscience behind being motivated and achieving our goals – I think the more we understand how we work and are wired, the better we can set ourselves up for success.
What are some common mistakes people make when setting goals, and how can they avoid them?
1. I think people fear goal setting in that they are afraid to be ambitious enough because of the fear of failure or making the wrong call – Shane Parrish of the Knowledge Project has an excellent course: Decision by Design that has really helped me with my thinking.
2. Setup your goals with a review process in mind – how are you going to track and report on your progress – here is a framework that might help.
3. I think it is really important to share your goals in advance and then be able to report back. 5 Ways to Make Sure You Achieve Your Goals This Year.
Can you provide some tips for breaking down long-term goals into smaller, more manageable tasks?
Sahil Bloom summarised the process as: “The new framework for goal setting involves five core steps: (1) Set the Stage, (2) Identify BHAG, (3) Work Backwards, (4) Establish Process Goals, (5) Track & Adjust”.
How do you prioritise your goals and ensure that you are focusing on the most important ones?
Refer frameworks above, but what has worked for me is to use a mind map of my goals and how they fit into how I am going to work throughout the year. I have a printed copy on my desk at work and home and try to review it daily as a prompt and reminder, especially around bigger purpose, rather than get sucked into the vortex of busy work.
How do you track your progress and hold yourself accountable when working towards your goals?
I am a big fan of using Planner Boards, so use a Kanban-style board for all my tasks that are linked to my goals.
Formerly doing a Monthly and Quarterly Review helps with course correction. A mental model that I use is the 1 in 60 rule – whereas: the 1 in 60 rule states that starting out, one degree off means winding up one mile off 60 miles later. So frequent checking in helps with not going off course.
Do you utilise any books or resources related to goal setting that may be of benefit to others?
Atomic Habits by James Clear