Understanding the significance of creating goals will be a very useful skill set that is well worth mastering, regardless of whether you are a single entrepreneur, manager of a small team, or you are just interested in learning more about leadership. Before you can successfully lead others, you must understand the importance of goal setting and how to stay focused on what truly matters.
It is the beginning of a new year and everyone seems to be talking about their goals for 2023. Do they know exactly what they mean by their goals? If we consider that a goal is “any desired outcome that wouldn’t otherwise happen without some kind of intervention” then we would have to consider that there will be work involved in successfully reaching what we set out to do. A quick Google search for “How to Reach a Goal” has over 1 billion results. The top results give similar pathways to goal accomplishment, typically including writing down your goal, giving yourself a deadline, and developing your skill set.
According to a study by Prof. Gail Matthews, a psychologist from the Dominican University of California, people who write down their goals are more successful than those who are only asked to think about what they want to achieve in life. The results showed that those who write down their goals are 20% more likely to achieve them than those who don't. This study's findings support the saying by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that "A goal without a plan is just a wish" by demonstrating that writing down goals makes them more concrete and attainable.
Most of us have heard of S.M.A.R.T. developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in their 1981 article “There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives” This model allows for a degree of clarity and a method for structuring goals to be specific, measurable. achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Many have found the model useful, but goal accomplishment requires so much more than a tidy acronym. We can talk about a goal or write down a goal using any method, but taking that step doesn’t get us to the results. The breakthrough and successful results come when we take action. Goal accomplishment requires you to take intentional action. It requires radical honesty about who you are now and who you have to be to reach your goal. Whether your goals are daily shifts in habits or a project that will take years of small steps, no amount of thinking or planning will allow it to be achieved. That magic can only come from your movement forward.
Why is Goal Setting So Important?
Setting goals can help people inspire new behaviors, guide their focus, and help sustain momentum. Goals can create camaraderie and clarity for teams working to accomplish a common goal and they can give us a degree of precision on the big picture and the moving parts that come with our circumstances. Setting goals allows us to generate purpose and intent in our actions. It actually makes our brains happy (due to the increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine) to generate a plan and a vision. It makes us want to take productive action!
If all of that is true, why is achieving goals so hard for so many of us? The latest data in Neuroscience and goal-setting theory gives us great insights. What we know is we do not all walk around with the same brain in our heads. Our brains differ in hemisphere dominance, neurotransmitter pathways, and hormone distribution to many varying degrees. Our executive function, the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember, and juggle tasks is where our ability to define and achieve goals is derived from. Many of us need to contend with improving our executive function before goal accomplishment can even be realistic. We may need support in identifying self-limiting beliefs, fears of failing, or even imposter syndrome. There also needs to be the right conditions for goal setting and the option to recalibrate and change the goal to avoid frustration and decrease motivation by the goal not being accomplished.
It is important to set intentional goals and it is important to know what might get in the way. Sometimes what might get in the way isn’t clear and we can end up stuck and forsaking goal-setting for a long time. We may try things that worked for us in the past and don’t seem to be working anymore. It may require a transformation we never planned on. While there is not one clear path to success, there are boundless opportunities to get out of your own way when it comes to goal setting.
Where Do I Start?
A good place to start being radically honest about what it will take to achieve a goal is by taking a personal inventory. Understanding your strengths, blind spots, and where you are in regard to your natural executive function will set the conditions for goal setting to be far more optimal than just jumping in. This can be done on your own but may be more valuable if done through partnering with a coach or mentor that is a right fit for your current level. At
KeenAlignment, there are programs geared toward allowing people to get a granular and nuanced understanding of where they are in their development and where they need to be to accomplish their biggest goals. We offer classes on goal setting specifically in our Leadership Accelerator program, as well as immersion programs designed to Ignite Your Power and allow people to gain experiential insights as to what is holding them back and create a clear vision of their path forward.
Visit us at keenalignment.com to schedule a qualifying call with one of our coaches and explore which program would be the best fit to help you achieve any goal imaginable!
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To your success, The KeenAlignment Team