As we approach the end of the year, business leaders are fervently engaged with the goal-setting process, outlining strategic objectives for 2021 that align with the vision of the organisation and will unlock the full potential of the people working around you.

Before you proceed, it’s important to reflect on the last 12 months. How have you got on with your 2020 goals? There’s a good chance it didn’t go to plan, especially given the challenging year we’ve all faced. How useful were the goals you set? Were you able to revisit and revise as the year unfolded?

Goal setting should be a tremendously helpful process that enables you, and everyone you work with, to achieve more and to feel excited about those achievements. Unfortunately for many, this is not the case. The goals people set eventually become a burden – a set of targets that dis-empower, de-motivate or become irrelevant. They get filed away under ‘goals’, whilst business continues as normal.

Paul J. Meyer said this about goals and it’s worth taking some time to think about at the start of our series on the subject:

“If you are not making the progress you would like to make, and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined.”

The essence of this statement is undeniable. To have the best chance of achieving what you’ve set out you must be crystal clear about what you’d like to achieve! To reach the heights you are capable of, efforts must be directed towards your targets, focussing on high payoff activities and delegating the right tasks to each team member.

The year ahead certainly won’t be without its challenges. There’s one key question you must ask yourself; ‘will we maximise the opportunities ahead or allow things to drift along?’

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Goal setting principles

As you think seriously about setting your personal and professional goals, keep in mind the following principles. Firstly, are your goals challenging and exciting? Goals have the power to motivate, energise and focus efforts like nothing else if those tasked with achieving them find them inspiring –they must see and feel the purpose in reaching them.

Secondly, it’s important to involve everyone in the goal setting process. Absolutely everyone should be involved in the process of setting meaningful goals that they will be required to give their best efforts to achieve. That doesn’t mean that all your staff must be part of the board-level discussions around strategic goals, but you will certainly benefit from everyone contributing to the overall goals.

Who knows what great ideas will be unleashed? When it comes to the departmental or team goals, it is crucial that all members feel some genuine involvement in processing company direction and can make goals relevant to them. Nothing neutralises the power of goal setting like the feeling of being forced by those in leadership positions.

Finally, it’s important to arrange an effective goals system. Ultimately, your goals should be reviewed and revised regularly. No matter how clear the goals are, if they are not backed up by a system of review and tracking, for celebrating progress and victories along the way, they will quickly become irrelevant and ineffective as a motivational tool. If you need help with this, ask – there are great systems around that you can adopt in your business.

Schedule quality time this month to review past and current goals, communicate with all relevant stakeholders and engage in the important process of launching your organisation into a new year with focus, energy and excitement. Unlock the true potential of setting clear and compelling goals and see what your business can achieve.