360 – Achieving Your Goals (Part 1)

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Hi everyone. I’m Tim Simmons and you’re listening to Business Skills 360. Glad you could join me today for the first part of our series on “achieving your goals.” We’re going to kick off it with a look at setting SMART goals and some tips for managing your goals.

Now, when I talk about goals, I’m talking about any kind of goal. It could be a personal goal, like improving your sales pitch, or an organizational goal, like expanding successfully into new territory. The basics are the same. (So the advice I’m going to share with you applies to goals of any size or scope.)

Okay, now achieving your goals always begins with setting good goals. But what exactly does a good goal look like? Well, you might have heard people talk about SMART goals. In this case, the word SMART is a mnemonic device. Each of those letters stands for something. The “S” is for specific. A goal like “I want to be a better salesman” is not specific. But “I want to improve my gross sales” is. “M” stands for measurable. Think about that phrase “A better salesman.” Can you measure that? No, you can’t. But you can measure gross sales. Next, goals should be attainable. Of course, you need to be ambitious, but you shouldn’t set goals that are clearly out of reach. In our salesman’s case, perhaps “improve my gross sales by 10%” is reasonable. Okay, the “R” in SMART means relevant. That is, is the goal aligned with the person or organization’s mission statement? Is it a worthwhile goal? And finally, goals must be time-sensitive. If we don’t attach some kind of timeline to our goal, then we may lose focus. “Sometime in the future” is not a very inspiring timeline. “Within this financial quarter” is. So, let’s see if we’ve managed to put together a SMART goal here… our hypothetical salesman’s goal is “I want to improve my gross sales by 10% within this financial quarter.” Very nice. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. And because it is all of those things, our salesman has a better chance of success.

Okay, so you’ve created a smart goal, now the question is how are you going to manage that goal? First off, you need to make it a priority. Chances are that you or your organization is working toward several different goals. Sometimes those goals compete for precious time or resources. So if you can’t give the goal what it needs, then really, what hope does it have of being achieved? Setting aside the time to work toward your goal is key. So is good delegation, if the goal is something that depends on the work of others. In this sense, a goal is like a project. In fact, some companies rely on goal-management software to make sure they stay on track.

And staying on track can be tough, especially if the goal is a long-term one. When the desired outcome is in the distant future, people and groups can become discouraged or forget altogether what they are working toward. That’s why goal management also involves breaking a goal into concrete steps. Sometimes people call these smaller steps “objectives.” Instead of expecting people or ourselves to maintain motivation for something far off, we set milestones along the way. Then we can spread the sense of accomplishment out over the duration of the process.

Does that make sense? You see, many people and organizations like to make goals but have the terrible habit of abandoning them. And if you give up on your goals regularly, for whatever reason, what’s the point in making them? Doing this will create a feeling or culture of disappointment and failure. And that is not healthy.

So remember, making smart goals and managing them well are critical. But that’s not all there is to achieving goals. You also need to understand the importance of communicating and remembering goals, maintaining motivation, establishing rewards, and dealing with slip-ups. But we’ll save that for next week. If you’d like to learn more or test yourself on today’s lesson, check out the myBEonline.com website. You’ll find vocabulary explanations, discussion questions, and a quiz. Thanks for listening, and see you next week.

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