Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goal Setting Headaches!

It'a the beginning of 2017 and that's got me thinking about goals.  There's a lot of content out there about goal setting.  HR departments around the world use SMART goals as a framework.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Framed ( or something like that).

Apart from my mistrust of acronyms as anything other than a mnemonic device, this kind of puts the cart before the horse.  There are a host of questions around goal-setting that should be asked:

  1. Is goal setting an effective activity? A desirable activity?
  2. What considerations should drive goals? Happiness? Fulfillment? 
  3. What should the focus of goals be? Self, team, other, community?
  4. What goals, or kind of goals, or goal attributes, lead to a higher likelihood of success? For example, a goal one can get excited about seems more likely to generate appropriate activity than a less exciting goal.
  5. How specific should a goal be?
  6. How many goals can we cognitively hold at once for any given period?  How many goals should we pursue in parallel?
  7. What events should initiate a change in goals?

I don't suggest that we have to answer all these questions in order to set goals, but considering them should lend a context of humility to goal setting.  For me, this means that I'll set two or three exciting goals to reach this year, but be open to changing conditions and opportunities.

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