Some Goal Setting Basics

Many of us set goals.  Around New Years time, most of us take it to the level of resolutions.  Many people I talked to seem to make the same goals and resolutions every year – year after year.  So, this article, while elementary, will address some of the basics of setting goals. 

First, you need to have a goal, and you do – even if you don’t know it.  As a matter of fact, you have many goals.  You just don’t think of them as such.  Think about all of the things you set out to do.  It may be as simple as just getting to a meeting on time, or as big as saving for a new home.  There are many different types of goals.  They can be related to business, health, personal, material, important and immediate, important, but not urgent – the list can go on and on.  They can be big or small. It doesn’t matter. 

Let’s take for granted that you can deal with what I call the “routine goals.”  Those are like “making sure you get up in the morning and get yourself to work on time” kinds of goals.  They happen without much thought or effort.  What I want you to think of are the other types of goals that need some management.  Some believe that writing goals down is what it takes, but it takes much more.  You don’t lose ten pounds by just writing down that you want to lose ten pounds.  Let’s use weight loss as an example, which is not just a goal for many, but also an annual New Year’s resolution.

So you want to lose weight?  How much?  Be specific.  At my personal peak, I weighed 196.  I wanted to get into the 180’s – a goal of about eight to ten pounds.  An ideal weight would be 182 – that’s 14 pounds. 

So, how did I get there?  Here are the steps I took:  I wrote my goal down; 182 pounds.  I decided a reasonable period of time to get there.  Two pounds each month was doable.  So, I gave myself seven months.  I made sure that the goal was in the forefront of my mind by seeing it written on my daily/ weekly planner, which I see every day.  I determined the obstacles, which were my love of desserts and my need for more exercise.  I gave myself a choice.  If I continued to eat desserts, I had to exercise more.  Already I exercised three times a week.  I bumped it up to six times.  I looked for a support team.  It was my wife, who made sure I got up every morning to workout.  I made sure to routinely check myself (on a scale) – a minimum of once a week.  Finally, I started.  Within three weeks I had dropped my first two pounds.  I was relentless.   I didn’t miss a day.  The goal was reached and it didn’t even take seven months! 

I do this with all of my goals and projects.  The steps are: 1) Write it down and have a definitive description and clear picture of what you are trying to do.  2) Create a plan or procedure.  How are you going to achieve it?  3) Acknowledge others may be involved and make sure they are aware and in agreement with your goal.  4) Determine a length of time.   5) Determine any obstacles and brainstorm how to overcome them.  6) Determine if you need someone to support you – someone who you will be accountable to.  7) Set up a checking system to monitor the goal/project.  8) Start and stay on track.  If you stray, don’t give up.  Come back and realign your time line.  9) If you don’t reach your goal on time, don’t go crazy.  Celebrate what progress you have made.  10) Finally, if you didn’t reach the goal, after you celebrate, set a new one.

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.

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