goal setting

Optimism Can Lead to Unrealistic Timelines

Photo by  Kyle Glenn  on  Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I am as guilty of this as the next person. I set goals for the quarter, and then about half way through I wonder, “what was I thinking?!?”  

This can be especially true when the objective we’ve set involves a larger, capacity building type of project. Being optimistic is usually a great character trait but in planning it can sometimes mislead us. 

What we can fail to recognize in setting goals, is that time previously spent on day-to-day activities will now need to be dedicated to the ‘special project’. When we plan we tend to forget that those daily activities still need to get done. A good rule of thumb when planning, and especially when planning bigger projects is to take your initial timeline, and double it. 

It might sound crazy, but try it and you may be surprised at the accuracy of your next project timeline.

Why Do We Plan?

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Why do we plan?  It’s a simple question, with multiple answers, all of them correct.  We plan because we need a roadmap for where we’re headed and what our preferred future state should look like.  We plan because we need goals—concrete outcomes that we want to achieve.  And we plan because it helps us to create focus around what is important.

All those reasons are valid and correct, but when it comes right down to it, the most important reason we plan, is to change behavior.  Without a plan we’re most likely to continue the behaviors we’re currently exhibiting and that won’t get us to a different outcome!  Lack of behavior change is also why the benefit of most planning exercises is not realized.  Organizations put 90% of their effort into creating the plans and 10% or less of their effort towards changing the behaviors that will be necessary to implement the plan.  Remembering “why we plan” can change the way you organize your next planning session.

How to Give Backbone to Your Business Objectives

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There’s no greater tool for improving the performance of an organization than setting well-thought out goals.  Goals give individuals working together on a team a common target to aim towards.  Well written and developed organizational goals provide the guiding structure that teams and individuals need to set objectives for the important outcomes in their respective areas.

The value of goals is diminished however, if a comprehensive Action Plan for “how to” accomplish the goal is not also created.  This is where you put the ‘meat on the bones’ of the goal setting process.  Action Plans break goals & objectives into bite-sized doable actions, which makes it easier to get started and helps avoid getting overwhelmed. 

The key to developing an Action Plan is to have clarity on the deliverable.  The deliverable is what you have when you are done.  It might be something like: “Create Board of Advisors by the end of the second quarter.”  Once the deliverable is clear, the Action Plan needs to indicate the specific steps that need to be taken, by whom and by when. 

For instance, before an Advisory Board is created, a business owner might want to first do research into best practices, talk with business owners who already have a board, and talk to her attorney to determine any legal ramifications.  Each of those steps needs to be defined, given a deadline and assigned to one individual.  Ideally, every major business objective has a corresponding Action Plan.  Well written objectives which are backed-up with detailed Action Plans provide the structure a leader needs to grow their business.