As we wind down 2016 and begin thinking about what we want to accomplish in 2017, I feel it's timely to revisit my 5 rules for setting and achieving stretch goals. Most of what I know about goal setting I learned from Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psychocybernetics, and Ron Willingham, a terrific sales expert who has studied goal setting as much as anyone I know. I highly suggest that you read anything they have written on goal setting because it is all "gold".
It’s Spring! When you hear the word “spring” you might think of sunshine, flowers, and warmer temperatures. Others might think of spring cleaning—because this new season is a great time to clear out those cobwebs. Spring cleaning is not just physical—it’s also mental. It’s really an opportune time to take stock about what you’ve accomplished so far and how things are trending for the rest of the year. Already one-quarter of the year is gone. Look at the goals you set for the year. How are you tracking? And what could you be doing to get better?
My good friend Coach Buzz Williams shared a tweet recently that really resonated with me, “Good ideas have no value because the world has too many. The market rewards execution, not ideas. Concentrate on ideas you can execute.” It does seem like there’s a big gap between having a great idea and then bringing that idea to fruition. If you were so inclined to take some time to sit down and think about it, you’d likely recall some great ideas that you’ve had. But often, that’s all they were—ideas.
What I’ve come to realize from working with college athletes and coaches that is quite often many of them just do not realize how truly great they could be. This occurs despite the fact that these students are playing athletics at the college level and are very talented. Getting them to truly understand the gap between their historical performance and their actual potential is challenging. When they finally do make the connection that as good as they are now, they have the potential to be even greater, the results can be amazing.
I believe we all want our lives to mean something, to be successful. Exactly what this means varies for each person. What I would call a successful and meaningful life is probably different than your definition. Yet I think we can all benefit from reminders about just what it takes to accomplish that success—however we define it.
Perhaps Yogi Berra said it best, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” The simple truth is you can’t hit a target you don’t have. And the only way I know to aim for that target is to set goals.
Now is the time of the year that folks tend to get involved in performance reviews and setting goals for the upcoming year. It’s something that most folks dread doing. Rather than viewing this as a chore, look at this as a true opportunity. This is your chance to put your personal imprint on your job—and to identify those interests that can help you be better. It’s the opportune time to incorporate more of what you want to do as part of your role. One of my employees, Joan Altemose, does this every year. I’ve told her she should write a case study about this—so allow me to pass the baton to her to explain….
There are quite a few naysayers out there who don’t believe in the power of setting goals. I’m not one of them. In fact, I refer to my goals quite frequently and use them to help guide me as I make decisions. And I think that’s a major difference between those of us who believe in goal setting and those who don’t. Those who don’t probably don’t understand how truly powerful they are.