Re-thinking smArt goals
Have you ever considered that your "Type A" personality traits might negatively impact your ability to ACHIEVE the goals you set for yourself...or your team? After recently completing my mid-year goal review, I decided to adjust some of my Type A tendencies and I am re-thinking what the "A" in smArt goals represents for me.
The SMART framework for goal setting is very popular and often used for both professional and personal goals. Although different words may be associated with a particular letter, the meaning among them is pretty consistent. If you are unfamiliar with the frame work, a common example is illustrated below.
In my re-thinking of the smart goals framework, I substituted the work ASPIRATIONAL to represent the letter "A". The idea to re-think the "A" came to me as I reviewed my goals and was disappointed and frustrated (Type A) that half way through the year I was on target to achieve only 1 of the 4 goals I had set for myself and my business. Typically I would be discouraged by this sense of failure and end up abandoning my remaining three goals entirely (Type A) assuming there was no possible way to attain them. However, this time, I chose to change my mindset with regard to the current status of my goals and this led to me re-thinking the meaning of the "A". Here are a few reasons why aspirational works better for me (and my Type A personality) than attainable/achievable. Maybe you will find the same?
Stuff happens. I could clearly visualize the path, and mapped out the steps, to attaining or achieving my goals when I chose them in late December. However, I could not foresee the unpreventable and unpredictable roadblocks that got in my way during the last six month. So accepting that reality, and aligning my expectations to this new reality, keeps my energy focused on the goal rather on something beyond my control.
Something is better than nothing. If the goals I chose are truly the 4 most important for me this year, then making some progress toward them is certainly more beneficial then just abandoning, or substituting them with easier to achieve goals that have a lesser impact.
Balance is essential. It might be possible to make up the lost ground on my goals if I had a laser focus and made significant trade-offs in other areas of my life (Type A). Although I have started the process of determining what activities will receive less attention since I'm behind, I have also set non-negotiable boundaries because I know the impact that continuous unbalance has on my overall state of well-being, productivity and ultimately my success.
I appreciate that organizational goals are different and employees don't have the option to think of them as aspirational (although in my experience they were often more aspirational vs realistic!) as they can be tied to performance reviews and compensation. But as leaders or managers, how we address the state of our goals at mid-year if we are lagging is critical. I have always found one of Jim Collins' themes in Good to Great to be helpful in this situation..."always confront the brutal facts, but never lose faith." So share your concerns with your team, listen to them to fully understand the roadblocks they face, solicit their ideas to overcome, make them a part of the solution and finally motivate them to persevere!
Whether attainable or aspirational, pursuing meaningful goals is never a straight and easy process. However, reviewing our progress consistently, understanding who (me and my Type A) or what is getting in our way, and making timely and appropriate adjustments will get us closer to reaping the rewards of our preparation, hard work and determination.
Debbie Platts is a leadership coach, small business consultant and speaker with an extensive background as a results driven former executive of a Fortune 30 company. As owner of JWP Coaching, she works with emerging and established leaders to create a journey with purpose where clients successfully navigate the challenges of modern leadership and accelerate the pace of their personal and professional effectiveness. She is a committed and passionate coach that holds her clients accountable for taking productive steps that move them closer to their vision of success.