Monday, November 27, 2017

4 Tips for Setting and Following Through on Your Goals

While reading, "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi, I came upon a chapter that talked about setting goals. While the book is focused on improving relationships and connections, the author's dive into goal setting prompted a serious self examine. Honestly, I haven't been great in this department. Yes, I have some written goals, but that's about as far as I've gone. Not good!

As I continue to work on improving me and my overall situation, I realize that without goals I can be quite shifty. Often times, I find myself asking the following questions:

  • What should I be working on? 
  • How should I be spending my time? 
  • What is my number one priority at the moment? 
Without goals, I end up spending time on things that aren't moving me forward toward anything of significance. Yes, I have a well oiled calendar with time allotted for any number of tasks and meetings, but are those activities the right activities? What am I saying "Yes" to that really should be a huge and emphatic "No?"

In the following sections, I share a few ideas on setting goals and ways to hold yourself accountable for reaching those targets.

1. Set A Realistic Goal

The first step is to set a realistic goal with a specific due date. For us procrastinators, having a deadline is a great way to ensure that this goal and all the subsequent tasks do not fall into the "someday" category.

2. Work Backwards from the Due Date

With a goal and date set, now it's time to pull out the calendar and determine what has to happen between now and the due date. What steps or tasks have to be completed in order to achieve the goal? As you come up with those items, be sure to add them to the calendar.

3. Find an Accountability Partner

Personally, having someone other than me to be accountable to is a great way to add pressure. I find that if I keep the goals and their related tasks solely to myself, it's easy to ignore deadlines with plenty of self promises to finish at a later date. This cannot happen if I seriously want to achieve my objectives.

In the past, I have used social media as a way to hold myself accountable. By stating my plans openingly and in the public eye, I had people who were watching my activity level closely. It's uncomfortable and embarrassing to be called out for not doing something that you said that you would do.

4. Up the Ante for Maximum Compliance

While your accountability partner could be your boss, friend, spouse, or business partner, there is the possibility that you will still fall short because there isn't enough at stake. For me, missing a deadline with my boss is something I am not willing to do, especially on important and high profile tasks. However, should you need more pressure, consider doing something that will make falling short extremely painful. 

One example would be to put money on the line. In the event that you don't reach your target, you lose that hard earned money toward a cause that you are adamantly against. This is another place where your accountability partner could come in. Give them a post dated check with expressed instructions to send the money if a goal is not reached by the agreed upon deadline. No amount of excuses or heartfelt pleading can stop the process. The only way to stop the clock is to achieve the goal.   

If you're open to that idea, consider using an online resource like, which is a free service that I've used in the past to lose weight. Instead of writing a check, you set a dollar amount backed by a debit/credit card. Next, you determine the goal, deadline, and weekly tasks that lead to the successful completion. Each week, you check in with a referee (your accountability partner) and report on whether you've completed the tasks for the last 7 days. If not, you lose a portion of the total dollar amount. To really apply pressure, agree to a figure that will cause serious discomfort.

Questions for Discussion

The purpose of this article is to initiate some form of action within our lives. To help get the ball rolling, let's answer these questions in the comment section below:
  • What are 3-5 goals that you want to achieve right now?
  • When are you planning on completing those goals?
  • What are you willing to do each week to accomplish the larger goals?
  • Who will serve as your accountability partner?

Share It! 

I hope that you got something of value in today's post. If you did, please take a moment and share it with someone who you think could benefit from it.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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