Goal creation is a skill that everyone has. Every year people all over the world create resolutions about how they want to change in the next year; you see children and high school students having a goal to get into 3 of their top 5 colleges; business owners have short-term and long-term goals and benchmarks they want to reach. It’s ingrained in everyone to actively be creating and working toward goals. However, the skill that many people are lacking is how to implement their goals and actually achieve them. Here are 3 effective ways to set goals, work toward them, and accomplish them:
A SMART goal is an acronym for used for goal setting to help guide objectives of a person or business. SMART goals are taught in many different locations, jobs, classes, etc. due to their effectiveness, however they are not applied nearly as much as they need to be.
S- specific. Goals have to be specific. You see goals all the time get deserted after a few weeks and sometimes days because they weren’t specific enough. If you have a specific target in mind, write it down. This target, this goal, will set a bar in your mind, in your employees’ minds, in your sales team’s mind where they won’t stop pursuing that 30% increase until they reach it.
M- measurable. Being able to measure a goal is a necessity to be able to know when you have reached your goal. If you don’t have a way of measuring a goal, how will you know when to create a new one? A measurable goal will allow you to know when you accomplished it, and it will allow you to move on to create and reach even more goals.
A- attainable. You need to set a goal that you are capable of reaching. If you don’t have the ability to reach your goal, you will lose all motivation to work toward that goal. Creating an attainable goal will allow you to see yourself accomplishing it; it will allow you to see the results of the work you are currently putting in.
R- relevant. In order for a goal to be motivating, it needs to be relevant to you and your team- it has to matter to you. Working toward something that you have no desire to accomplish will cause you not to exert your best effort to reach it. Having a goal matter, having it be relevant will create a new sense of motivation to push your team to reach your goal.
T- time frame. A goal that is bounded by a time-frame is very important in goal accomplishment. If you don’t set a time to have to goal being accomplished, what is stopping you from pushing it off completely? A time-frame will cause you to actively think about pursuing that goal until the time-frame is up. It will put pressure on you and your team to set aside time and effort to work toward that specific, measurable, attainable, relevant goal.
An implementation intention is a strategy that supports goal attainment. As you are probably well aware, a goal intention is specifying an endpoint, whereas an implementation intention is specifying the the “when”, “where”, and “how” of a goal. Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor at NYU, discovered the importance of implementation intentions. He created a framework for creating goals of “When ______ happens, I will do __________”. This framework is best used against challenging and hard to start goals, because it shows the simplicity and habitual aspects of goals. If you have a goal of increasing work productivity and decreasing time wasted on phones, social media, procrastination, you can use this framework to prepare for those instances. You would say “When I get on my phone and start scrolling on Facebook, I will put my phone out of reach and get back to work.” In Peter Gollwitzer’s study on implementation intentions, he found that people who set goals using this framework, 71% of his subjects achieved their goal. Implementation intentions are that easy and that effective.
Similar to implementation intentions, the WOOP framework is an acronym that assists in goal attainment, however this framework focuses on overcoming obstacles. When setting a goal, looking at possible outcomes is needed so you can prepare for those obstacles, but plan to overcome them, which is where this framework comes in.
W- wish. The wish is your goal- what you are trying to achieve. Whatever you are using this framework for, write it down. Specify what your goal is for this process.
O- outcome. This step is where the optimists have a great time. Here you are supposed to think positive and write down the best possible outcome of your goal. Write down what you are trying to get out of your goal; why do you have this goal in the first place?
O- obstacle. This step, you identify the obstacles in yourself and in the external world that will prevent you from reaching your goal.
P-plan. The plan specifies how you are going to overcome the obstacles you mentioned before to reach and accomplish your goal.
By the end of this framework, your plan should look something similar to this: “If (obstacle) , then I will (plan to overcome obstacle) .” This strategy is reworking the classic “If…Then” statements to motivate you to pursue your goals. Creating your WOOP strategy is simple, but it’s going to take effort to push through the obstacles that will get in your way.