Goal setting as an annual task is an activity that can seem very disconnected from the reality of the rest of the year. There is signficant power in setting goals, but many professionals and organizations fail to capitalize on that power and accountability.
No matter how you choose to set goals, using SMART, GROW, BHAG, or any other method, the real benefits in the process are in having a way to measure success and progress constantly. Sometimes recognized as KPIs (key performance indicators), milestones, or mini-goals, consistently evaluating positive change is critical throughout the year.
Be sure any evaluation measures are as objective as possible. They should be measurable, and there should be a time component to the goal. Without these factors, measuring and assessing progress is subjective, and it can be difficult to identify what needs to be adjusted to achieve the desired results.
Milestones, or mini-goals, are small steps that are needed to reach the big goal. They make a big goal more manageable while also building accountability. These milestones are effective for measuring progress and for keeping you on track to meeting your big goals.
Micro or mini goals are also positive motivators. We have a sense of accomplishment and control when we can measure our progress. It also allows us to modify our path toward the goal if and when needed.
Planning goals for a year or longer means relying on information we have at the time of the goal setting exercise. In life, things can change, including new opportunities or possible options to consider.
By routinely checking in on your progress and evaluating possible options available, you may be able to meet your goal earlier or move into your stretch goals. Being effective and flexible is only possible if you regularly assess where you are, your options, and potential alternative paths.
Having routine feedback on your progress from a trusted colleague, mentor, coach, or team leader is helpful. Feedback and the right questions from others can help create options, see progress, or modify goals to be more accurate and achievable based on the current progress.
Unfortunately, it is common for the management team to be involved in goal setting and evaluation only during employee reviews. This limits the insight and support that can be provided through more of a leader-as-a-coach approach to success.
If possible, integrate progress checks into your regular meetings with the team and management. This provides valuable feedback and insight and adds an accountability factor to help you meet or exceed your annual goals.