|Setting Goals: 4 Common Mistakes|
|Let’s jump right in shall we? The topic: Goal setting. We all do it. Over the years I have noticed that there are common pitfalls in this process that are worth naming:|
Too many: You are being overambitious. You feel the pressure of expectations. Yours and every one else’s. You can’t possibly settle for anything less than well...everything that needs to happen. So then what happens? You might feel frozen by the enormity of the task you have set for yourself. A shmatte* before you have even begun. Or you start the year in a sprint when this is a long distance event and your systems start to fail you way too early in the process.
*a spent rag
The wrong kind: Maybe you are too far down in the minutia. You have articulated 5 goals that are all really in the service of one big idea and you are predetermining aspects of getting to the goal that others need to weigh in on. Or, your goals contain a lot of ‘nice to have’s.’ And yet, they are not essential to your mission. So then what happens? Your people are frustrated—quality drops. Or, you are reporting on lots of progress but none of it has made a dent on the core purpose of your organization.
Invisible: You generated a serious list of goals. They are informing your thinking about all aspects of the work. And for some reason, you have not shared them. Your board doesn’t know what they are. Your leadership team has never seen them in black and white. The community you serve is completely in the dark. So then what happens? You are pulling and ‘they’ are pushing. You are getting pressure to make certain things a priority (some of which may already be a priority for you but no one knows that!). You are being assessed on the basis of stakeholders’ subjective sense of what you should be doing rather than on how you are doing relative to the specific goals you are trying to achieve.
Unimaginable: So let’s say you have a manageable set of goals that get to the heart of your work. Everyone knows what they are. BUT, no one knows what success looks like! How will you know when you have achieved the goals? There is no clarity and therefore people may be carrying different conceptions of what the goals are really about. So then what happens? People start to worry that in fact the goals are unrealistic. Or, no one has a clear sense of what steps it will take to reach the goals.
Take a good look in the mirror of your practice. Be transparent about what you have noticed. Involve your community in the process. Get information, get feedback.
And by the way...these apply to your personal relationships too. If you unload a laundry list of what is wrong with your relationship, get petty about the details, think you can change something and your partner will “just know” or are fuzzy about what you mean when you say you need to be more (fill in the blank) you will get stuck!