How to Set Productive Goals in 2016

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goals2016. A new year that brings new resolutions. And can’t our resolutions be boiled down to new goals?

Even if we aren’t the aspirational types, most of us need to define our professional goals for 2016 anyway. After all, performance evaluations often circle back to the goals we set in the beginning of each year. Like it or not, professional goals are inevitably tied to the corporate “Happy New Year!” Let’s make the best of it! Help yourself and your team set S.M.A.R.T. goals that tie into business objectives.

How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals

Let’s refresh on what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based. Why do people refer to the SMART method so often when it comes to goal-setting? Because it works. Now get your team’s buy-in and let’s get down to it.

  • S – Specific. A good way to check that your goal is specific is making sure it has all relevant answers to “who, what, when, where and why.”
  • M – Measurable. This is arguably most important. If you don’t define how you’ll measure the goal, how can you prove you’ve achieved it?
  • A – Attainable. Don’t fall into the trap of setting goals you cannot possibly achieve. An even subtler mistake? Setting a goal in which you only control a portion of the outcome. For a goal to be truly yours, you must be 100 percent in control.
  • R – Realistic. Yes, it’s good to set a goal that stretches you a bit, but make sure it’s realistic. How will you know? One good measure is if it will be possible to you within the given timeframe, which leads us to…
  • T – Time-based. A goal needs a deadline. Without a deadline, you’ll have a very compelling excuse to put off achieving your goal. Plus, having a deadline will help you build out necessary benchmarks along the way while giving you a little nudge of urgency.

Not S.M.A.R.T. – “I will read more industry literature.”

S.M.A.R.T. – “This year, I will read one industry book per quarter and will subscribe to three industry blogs and websites, reading at least two articles per week.”

2 Tips to identify the best goals:

The hallmark of a great goal is that it’s necessary. Necessary to a business objective, overall success, happiness, health, etc. Why set a goal if it doesn’t play into a larger picture? Here are some tips to ensure you don’t waste time on unnecessary goals:

  1. Consider the bigger picture of what you want. Does your goal fit into that?
  2. Make sure you want to achieve your goal, not just that you should achieve your goal. You’ll be more likely to carry it through.

4 Tips to achieve goals:

  1. Write them down. You’ll be able to refer back to them and will be more likely to feel accountable to them.
  2. Share them with a mentor or colleague. They can help motivate us and will celebrate with us when we achieve what we aim to do.
  3. Chip away. Set up small wins for yourself throughout your goal’s timeline. These benchmarks should add up to achieving the overall goal and will keep you motivated along the way as you shoot for your next small step.
  4. Believe you can do it. If you’ve written a SMART goal, this will have been worked into your Realistic and Attainable checkpoints. It’s worth noting, though, that you have to feel emotionally bought into your goal to stay motivated. If you lose faith in your ability to achieve it, you probably won’t carry through.

Good luck in 2016. May we all achieve our goals!

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