Fresh from challenging a great group of groundsmen and greenkeepers to further extend their skills at the recent Essential Management Skills Workshop (Part 1), Careers Counsellor and Trainer Frank Newbery now explores the power of personal goal setting and explains in plain language how you can be an over-achiever in 2008.
I wonder if there will be a 'new you' for the New Year. Will you stick to your New Year resolutions or will you deliberately avoid setting any goals at all?
Are you the type of person who responds to the seasons of the year? Do you feel renewed at springtime and fulfilled in the summer months when the sun is on your back? Do the rapidly changing autumn colours inspire you as you clear away the leaves and will we ever have a proper winter again?
Just as we can help Mother Nature to help us get a good playing surface we can 'help' ourselves and our career prospects with some good management practices of our own. Just as we can neglect a garden we can also neglect ourselves and let nature take its course. Personally, I like being a couch potato a lot of the time - it suits my lifestyle of peace and tranquillity interspersed with desperate panics and emergencies!
However, there is research that suggests that the people who do try to set themselves new, but reachable, goals on a regular basis are amongst the highest achievers in life. This research, that was carried out on people who were known to understand the concept of goals, discounts people with great intelligence or personal wealth to start with and those who have won the lottery or other games of chance. I wonder which of the four groups you are in below.
|Approach to Personal Goals||Proportion Achieving Most|
1. Those who write down andreview goals regularly
2. Those who write down goals,
don't review them
3. Those who have goals intheir mind only
4. Those who do not have
1. Those who write down and review goals regularly
The table suggests that the highest 4% of achievers in life are those who write down goals and review them regularly. These are the people who will adjust some of their deadlines to account for circumstances, perhaps even re-writing their goals mid-term. They do not allow the goals to become 'set in stone'; the goals exist to help the high achiever to focus his/her efforts. People in this group achieve almost all of their goals.
2. Those who write down goals but do not review them
The next highest achieving group represent 6% of the population. They write down goals at least one per year but they tend not to review them but are happy when their efforts and their circumstances combine to achieve a written goal. However because they do not review their goals and adjust their deadlines when circumstances work against them they tend to 'fail' to achieve some of their goals. People in this group achieve a lot but not all of their goals
3. Those who have goals in mind but do not write them down
The next highest achieving group represent a massive 60% of the population. It is the majority of us who want 'one day' to go on that exotic holiday; to do a parachute jump, to get a better job and to retire early. People in this group set rather daunting goals which they do not break down into achievable steps or milestones. They regard themselves as very blessed when circumstances do conspire to make one of their goals achievable.
4. Those who do not have any goals
The lowest achieving group represent a substantial 30% of the population. They are people who are not aspirational; they do not feel that they will ever have the resources or the good fortune they believe is necessary to achieve any meaningful goals. They may do the lottery and hope to win it one day and they are happy for others to be successful. People in this group do not set goals so their goal success cannot be measured. However, it has to be said that many of them are happy and contented with their lives.
I have to confess that, over the years, I have been, at some time or another, in every one of the groups mentioned above. There were times and situations in my life that were so exciting that goals were the last thing I needed to motivate me to perform better at work or in my career. That said I have to confess that the year I set myself ten goals to be achieved in one year was a special year. I put those goals on a notice board at work so that I had to look at them every day. It ended up being the year that I achieved most in any period of my life.
I achieved nine and a half of my ten goals that year. The one I did not achieve was a musical goal. I set myself the goal of being able to play a piano competently, from scratch, in one year. I got distracted by some of my other goals in the latter part of the year and I had only mastered a few chords by my deadline. I would now of course just adjust my deadline and achieve my goal eventually and, by doing so, eventually achieve most or all of my goals.
If you want to test yourself against your personal best, if you quietly fancy the idea of being a 'new you' there needs to be some rules if you are going to maximise the chances of your success. These are:
1. The goals must be written down
2. The goals must be your own
3. The goals must be positive i.e. 98% success rate rather than 2% failure rate
4. The goals must be measurable
5. The goals must be specific i.e. I will lose a stone not I will lose weight
6. The goals must be stated in visible terms i.e. you can see the results
7. The goals must have a deadline
8. The goals must be realistic
9. The goals must have a benefit statement i.e. I will lose weight and be fitter
10. The goals must allow you to be flexible i.e. deadline might need to change.
With reference to Rule 2 'The goals must be your own', I had a boss who once told me that he wanted me to have ten goals for the year ahead. "Fine", I said "I will go and write them up for you". "No need" he said "nine of your goals will be mine. Nine of mine are my boss's and so on up through the organisation. You need only come up with one personal breakthrough goal. Something you really want to achieve at work that you have never done before. It could even be something that has never been achieved by anyone before".
You can predict what happened that year. As we progressed through the year which goal got by best attention? Which goal was achieved first? Which goal had never been achieved in British industry let alone in our little part of it? You guessed it. My 'personal breakthrough' goal.
Conventionally though, goal setting has categories that you may wish to consider for your personal breakthrough, for the new you. In the past I have picked from the following list but you can 'pick and mix' or invent your own category. For example:
1. Health Goals - give up bad eating habits
2. Fitness Goals - get in shape
3. Social Goals - get out more
4. Study Goals - get more qualifications
5. Career Goals - get promotion
6. Finance Goals - get debts paid off
7. Attitude Goals - get happy
8. Family Goals - get more time with family members
9. Cultural Goals - get a piano and learn to play it
10. Spiritual Goals - get involved in some voluntary work
As we go into the New Year let me wish you good luck with your personal goals, with the 'new you'. You may not need luck but you might need to remember the high achiever statistics, you will definitely need to follow the rules and above all try to only set goals in the categories that really inspire you e.g. your personal breakthrough.
If, in the meantime, you have an urgent question about career development or personal goal setting you can contact Frank by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the 'Contact' tab of his personal website www.franknewberry.com.