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Goal setting part 3


Goals are also discussed elsewhere (see The Complete Time Management package).
Without personal (or business) goals you will wander aimlessly hoping that things will turn out OK.
In other words, you will be reactive and not proactive.

In ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ she met a Cheshire cat.

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

In general, there are two types of goal:

  • Performance goals and
  • Outcome goals

These are pretty much self evident.
The outcome goal refers to the target you are trying to achieve.
For example, “I wish to achieve grade 4 on the piano by September 1st”

The performance goal is the technique for getting there.
For example:

  • I will use a professional piano teacher
  • I will practice from ‘teach yourself’ books
  • I will practice daily
  • I will practice weekly
  • I will play alone
  • I will play with someone who can listen and make comment
  • I will take tests at intervals
  • I will learn music theory etc, etc.

Whilst you may be able to say for sure that your technique will be ‘A’ or ‘B’ it is not possible to know whether you will achieve your goal.
Goals mean improved motivation.

The plan

Once you have established a goal you must decide how you are going to achieve it.
You must then generate your plan.

Some people, in project management circles (see The Complete Project Management package), refer to the ‘plan’ as the entire package of activity leading towards a finished goal.
The plan in the above sense is that part which just contains the ‘timelines’ for achieving specific things.
The overall timeline is called a schedule.


Goals are often referred to as long and short term.
This is a little bit of a misnomer.

A goal is the final finished product or target.

We know that in order to reach a goal (which may be a long way off) it is best to break it down into smaller tasks. This list will have timelines and form the schedule.
Every so often it is a good idea to check on your progress.
If you decide that after 10 tasks you will reach point ‘X’ you can check your position.
You will need to define the criteria fro reaching point ‘X’.

Point ‘X’ becomes a ‘milestone’. You can have as many milestones as you feel are useful.

S.M.A.R.T. targets

Many people would have heard of S.M.A.R.T. objectives (targets) where the acronym refers to:

Time (related)

We can see that the simple goal that we identified above was:

“I wish to achieve grade 4 on the piano by September 1st”

It meets all of the criteria of the S.M.A.R.T. targets in terms of:

Specificgrade 4 on the piano
Measurablepass a grade 4 practical exam
Achievableyes its possible to get to this level
Relevanta musical instrument that I want to play
Time (related)by September 1st

What goals?

In older styles of management goals are merely set and people are told to achieve them.
Of course what goal or goals you choose will be down to you.
They are not just work related.
They can be very motivational in your private life.

Some areas that you may wish to consider are:

  • Family, home, friends and other social settings
  • Physical and health matters
  • Money and work related
  • Education
  • Cultural
  • Spiritual, morale and ethical
  • Public service

Make sure that you have the ultimate control over attaining any goals.
Break them down into milestone markers so that you can check on your progress.
Once you have achieved an easy goal and obtained experience and confidence try for something that may stretch you a little in terms of your abilities and comfort zone.

If you really want to set yourself a challenge why not make a promise to reach one of your goals.
Tell a good friend about it. This is powerful motivation to make sure that you make the greatest attempt to complete your goal.

What tasks?

The plan will consist of a series of tasks.
It takes a little time to make sure that you have a complete list and that you have considered all of the problems.
Some areas to consider may be:

  • What information do you need?
  • What hurdles and problems do you foresee?
  • Do you need any special techniques or skills?
  • Can anyone else be of use to help you?
  • Identify suitable criteria for milestones and the final goal

Once you have your schedule you will be able to monitor your progress.

Super goal

In your life you are likely to record many goals.
If you can make one of these stand out from the rest it will give you greater impetus to reach all of your goals.
Identify one and label it as your super goal.
A super goal should have a great personal effect on you.

Goal listing

Generating potential goals can benefit from creating a list like many other aspects of motivation.
If you ask a group of people to come up with their own goals you may be greeted by silence and blank sheets of paper.
It is often easier for people to say what they don’t want rather than what they do.

When faced with this situation just put the question, “What don’t you want?”
Thoughts seem to flow much more quickly in this situation.

Once you have the list the goals become the opposite of the ‘don’t want’.
Try to achieve a degree of accuracy by not allowing the statements to become too vague.