We all know how important it is to have a vision, to set goals and how these goals should be formulated. We all have heard and read plenty about concepts such as S.M.A.R.T. and the like. And still, I know a whole lot of people that apply these goal setting rules but miss their targets. How on earth can that be possible? If we know so much about how to set our goals correctly, why is it that still so many people miss them? The truth lies in what we focus on. Once goals are set we often have the wrong priorities.
The most common Mistake after our Goals are set
Let’s say your goal is to receive a 10% pay raise by the end of the year. The moment that decides if you are going to get that pay raise will not be your performance review meeting, nor will it be New Year’s Eve when you set the goal. Instead, it is every single workday on the way that will decide. I might go even more micro and say it is every single Meeting, Email and Phone call that matters. In other words: The Emails you write and the presentations you hold are exactly the things that will decide over you receiving your 10% pay raise.
However, people still tend to put an enormous amount of focus on that one long-term goal. We are all impatient about it. Yet the next Email receives little or no attention. Are we impatient about performing extraordinarily well on our next Email? I don’t think so. Instead, we are satisfied if the quality of our Email is just OK. We will try to do better on our next one, but will fall into the same pattern there again. Well, in that case, we have to be happy if our next pay raise is not 10% but just an OK 3%. This mindset is a killer for your long term goals.
It is the right Focus that matters
I am going to make a blunt statement: Once your long term goal is set, once your micro goals are defined, forget every single goal you have except for the next one! Yes, you read correctly. Defining where you want to go and having your end-goal in mind is great. But it will not do the trick for you. You are not going to reach your long-term target if you keep focusing on it. Instead, put your focus on your very next task. Overperform on it and give it your 100%. Once you accomplished the task, move on and focus on the next goal in line.
How will this Goal-setting approach help you?
- Most importantly, you will perform well on the tasks that really count! You will not be distracted by a target far out in the future but instead, focus on what matters at the moment.
- You can be sure that your co-workers and your boss will notice your increased performance. This will result in positive feedback and help you stay motivated.
- By not always focusing on one big goal but lots of small ones, your mission will feel much more achievable and realistic.
I challenge you to try this approach for the next two weeks. After two weeks, reflect and measure what you managed to get done. I bet you will be surprised by how far it will take you. Then think: If it got you this far in two weeks, what can it do for you in a Month, three Months or a year?
Please make sure to leave your comments below. I look forward to hearing your stories.
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