Hello again from Pop’s Perspective corner! 2016 promises to be a wonderful year and I would like to add my personal New Year’s best wishes to Bill & Todd as they kick off their new law firm, Askin & Hooker, LLC. I know that this year is going to be an especially challenging one for them and I would be surprised if they did not have a series of goals lined up for themselves and the new firm.
Which brings me to the topic of this edition of Pop’s Perspective: Goals!
I have always tried to consider goals as part of how I approached my business career as well as my personal life. It seems to me that having goals provides us with something to work towards. Setting goals should give us something to focus on, guiding how we push forward and acting as a constant reminder of what we want to achieve. Goal setting can be a powerful process for considering your ideal future and for the motivation to turn a vision into reality. And goal setting should assist us in knowing what we want to achieve and to know where we need to concentrate our efforts.
I think one of my most memorable recollections of goal setting was the time when I was approaching the age of obtaining a drivers license. (Yes – most all of us thought that it was a coming of age thing and that we had “arrived” when we got that piece of paper that allowed us to drive a motor vehicle). I set a personal goal of earning enough money to enable me to purchase a car on the day I got my license. And I made that happen by getting a job, saving money and finding the ideal first car. A second goal setting experience I recall was having a boss at one time in my career who was a die hard believer in the “Management By Objectives” way of achieving success. His was a very formal process of creating ones own list of goals including lots of specifics and adhering to the “Five Golden Rules” of goal setting which I will touch on in a moment. But this particular process not only involved the actual setting of goals (objectives) but stating how the progress against them would be measured and actually signing a “contract” to specify the goals agreed to. Periodic reviews of the “contract” were made, adjustments made where necessary, and in the end, our performance ratings (and compensation adjustments) were based on the outcome.
Any research or discussions of the subject of GOALS will include a reference to SMART. Historians found that many people failed in their endeavors because they did not possess the ability to organize their energies around a goal or series of goals. And it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that a gentleman named George Doran created a white paper addressing a process for identifying proper goals. And Mr. Doran came up with the acronym of “SMART”. This process contains some five criteria for setting of goals: Goals need to be specific (“S”), measurable (“M”), assignable (“A”), realistic (“R”) and time-related (“T”).
The “specific” criteria indicates that a goal must target an exact area for improvement. The “measurable” means that the goal must be quantifiable or have a specific way to measure success. The “assignable” states who will accomplish the tasks necessary. The “realistic” naturally means that reaching/achieving the goal must have a realistic chance of achievement given the resources available. And the “time related” element specifies when the result can be achieved.
Pretty simple yet without these criteria goal setting would be rather haphazard and meaningless. Let’s use something near and dear to me as an example. If I were to create a goal of “improve my golf game”, that would not have any of the above discussed criteria attached to it. But if I stated, “lower my handicap” it would target a specific area for improvement. But this still would not contain the element of being measurable. So if I added “achieve a handicap of 12” it could be measurable; but a better goal would state “lower my handicap from 26 to 12 by August 1st” would introduce measurability and an indicator of progress against the goal and provide the time element. The assignability is clearly me – unless there was a goal of improving a team golf game. Now – back to realistic, we could possibly say that this particular goal, as stated, is somewhat unrealistic and perhaps should be reviewed and considered for adjustment to provide a stretch yet still contain the element of being achievable.
OK – so I may not have given a very meaningful example of using SMART to create and manage goal setting but you get the idea. But the key part of using the SMART way of goal setting is that it should inspire people to clearly consider and define goals and objectives as they are being set. Another attribute of the SMART system is its ease of use. But writing SMART goals is the easy part – sticking to it and monitoring progress is the hard part. And as with any plan, periodic review is very necessary and the ability to change the goal is necessary when changing circumstances make the original goal as committed to unachievable.
So with all the above said, from Pop’s Perspective, goal setting should become a way of life for all of us, should be that thing that gets us out of bed in the morning and serve as the “Juice” that moves us to seek out and attain our desired state.
Once again, all the best for a healthy and prosperous new year
to one and all and my very best wishes to Bill and Todd for the success of their new firm.