Have you ever aimed at nothing? I have, and I have a remarkably high success rate when I aim at nothing. In 2015 I was challenged by one of my mentors to properly start setting goals, so I did. It was pretty weird at first, I hadn’t really tracked my personal progress before so it was a little bit awkward but I put some goals down on paper and took them back to my mentor.
The first thing he said to me was ‘why?’ and he took one of my goals and said ‘why aim for 80, why not 60 and why not 120?’. I explained that I thought 80 was going to be about 10 more than I would hit if I stayed on the track I was going. He challenged me that there was no point setting a goal that was only slightly above my current trajectory anyway and to either scrap the goal or go all in and set a real goal. So I did, I upped the target to 100. The target looked too big, I had no idea how I was going to hit it but I got to work on it anyway.
The second thing my mentor challenged me on, was why I had so many goals (I had 8). Too many goals become a distraction for me and in my attempt to achieve everything in one year I end up achieving very little. My mentor encouraged me to have no more than 3 goals. This started a second round of refining my goals. I got rid of the goals I liked but didn’t really have a commitment to and replaced them with 3 goals I had now focused on and made much harder.
The goals were S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and they had a Timeframe) and I broke them down from annual targets into quarterly, monthly and weekly targets all supported by daily habits (what do I need to get done each day, to make sure I hit my targets for the week, month, quarter and year?). I then revisited my goals each fortnight to track my progress and to make adjustments. And you know what? I smashed them. All.
The 100 target that scared me was completed by November, and I managed to finish the year at 110. Not only that but due to a variety of travel and other circumstances I actually lost about 10 weeks of the year. So in 9.5 months, I had achieved 10% more than what I thought was possible in 12 months.
The main things I learned through this process were:
- Set goals, but only a few major ones.
- Focus on them. Achieve them at the expense of other things. Fortnightly reviews are a must.
- Make them harder than you think is possible right now (but consider anything above current performance a win).
- Simplify annual goals all the way down to daily habits.
What are you aiming at for 2017?