Whether you love them or hate them, goals are necessary.  Goals unleash a powerful force that keeps organizations, teams, and individuals growing and improving, both professionally and personally.  Without continuous regeneration, jobs and organizations can quickly become obsolete and irrelevant especially in our highly competitive marketplace.

Research has shown that individuals who set goals generally accomplish five to ten times more than those who have equal or better education and ability.  In his research, Damon Burton, professor at the University of Idaho, found something even more striking about people who set goals.

• Have less stress and anxiety.
• Concentrate better.
• Are more self-confident.
• Perform better.
• Are happier and more satisfied.

Drive bottom line performance through appropriate goal settingIronically, goals (and the power they wield) can quickly become problematic unless we diligently use caution and our common sense.  Like an invisible magnetic force, an errant or misleading goal can actually push people to act in inappropriate or unethical ways, sometimes engaging in risky behavior that isn’t beneficial for them or their organizations.  Someone who pursues a reckless goal creates undue anxiety for others, encourages self-serving ambitions, and amplifies silo behaviors within an organization. 

On the other hand, the most admirable and benevolent goal can be a miserable failure if isn’t developed carefully.  A budding goal may have a focus that is too broad, too vague, too narrow, too aggressive, or without motivation.  It is possible to have a goal that conflicts with other goals or you can simply have too many to complete.  Sometimes, a seemingly very good goal can be perceived as threatening by other people; make certain that it is beneficial to all concerned.  It has been said that the hardest task you will face is making the “right” goal.  Many organizations use a goal-setting method defined as S.M.A.R.T –Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Too often, goals fail because people don’t believe this type of results driven leadership can be realized.  It won’t matter how “good” the goal is if you can’t see it, feel it, or define it.  You must believe in and then be ready to act on your goal. 

Goals can be a potent force and are necessary to keep up with the constant change in our world.  Use good judgment as you develop your goals and take the time you need to set goals that are well-defined.  By keeping the five S.M.A.R.T. concepts in mind as you set your goals, you will increase your chance of success by five to ten times over those who don’t.  As someone once said, “All good performance starts with “smart” goals.”

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About the Author
Martha Rice

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