Goals Guidelines

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Goals are your guide for results. Technically, a goal is the result you want to achieve, while objectives are specific and measurable checkpoints along the way. Your goals should be relevant and meaningful for you. If they aren’t compelling, you aren’t going to see them through.


To improve your goals and objectives, consider the following guidelines:

  • Check your ladder.
  • Create SMART goals.
  • Have a compelling "What."
  • Know the tests for success.
  • Know the “Why” behind the goal.
  • Use vision and feeling.
  • Work backwards with the end in mind.


Check Your Ladder

Is your ladder up against the right wall? Every now and then you have to stop and check your ladder. Nothing's worse than climbing a ladder to find it’s up against the wrong wall. Test your metaphorical ladder by imagining your future results based on your current path. One way to help check your ladder is simply add periodic reviews, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly, and evaluate your direction.


Create SMART Goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. A fuzzy goal would be “make more money.” A specific goal would be to make $100,000 a year within the next 6 months. By making it specific, you know when you’re done. You also know what good looks like. By putting a time frame on it, it helps you prioritize over other activities. You can’t do everything at once. By prioritizing your goals and by getting clarity on your results, you give yourself a clear map to drive your results and direct your energy.


Have a Compelling “What”

Your "What" should be a great manifestation of your "Why." Use it to guide your course. This is your vision.


Know the Tests for Success

Identify the tests you can use to know when you’ve achieved your results. Use your tests to also help identify what good looks like. The better your tests reflect what you want to accomplish, the more effective they are for helping you measure your results along the way. When developing software, it’s common to use “exit criteria” to know when you’re done with a certain stage. Consider adopting your own personal exit criteria.


Know the “Why” Behind the Goal

Why is this goal so crucial for you to accomplish? Most people fail at their goals because the goals didn’t really matter to them. If your goal is worth spending time on, then spend the time up front to really elaborate on why it’s so important for you. The more you can identify the value and make it compelling, the more creative forces and energy you’ll bring to bear when you need to make your goals happen. This will really help you when you hit your early hurdles or when you find your focus or energy starts to wane. You can revisit your why behind the goal, and it will help inspire you back on track.


Use Vision and Feeling

When you have a clear vision of the outcome you are shooting for and can even feel as if it has already happened, you make progress quicker. Assuming the goal is compelling and you actually desire the outcome, the feeling gives you the energy to continue moving towards your desired outcome. Knowing that the feeling is different from the outcome lets you shift to a different vision of an outcome if needed. Remember, in the end it’s how you think the outcome will make you feel that’s really important when you step back.


Work Backwards with the End in Mind

Working backwards from where you want to be can help make you more resourceful. Look to working examples and reverse-engineer.


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