CIO Olympics skills special - Setting Goals

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The hundred goals most of us set have different attributes. Brian Little and colleagues have developed a system for classifying pursuits along a variety of dimensions. One such dimension is control. How much control do you have over project completion?

Another dimensions psychologists use to catalog personal projects is the community dimension, along which you can plot the extent to which a goal is of value to people who are important to you. Pursuits that are relatively low on the community dimension may be blocked by those around you. Conversely, you’re likely to get help from other people for those goals which are of value to the community.

What researchers have found is that some of the biggest problems in goal attainment start with what the objective means to the person setting the goal. How do you define your goal and what is your atttitude towards the outcome?

A Simple Technique for Setting Goals

There’s an easy method that will help guarantee completion of both personal and professional pursuits. Try setting goals with the following essential characteristics.

  1. Everything that has to be done is within your control.
  2. The outcome is important to you.
  3. Working towards the goal is something that requires learning, as opposed to something you do as a way of showing off talent.
  4. The outcome is not only important for you, but also for people close to you.
  5. The project is challenging.
  6. It’s something you choose to do.
  7. If you find that hard to remember, you might try using the acronym WILL DO, where
  8. W is for within your control.
  9. I is for important.
  10. L is for learnable.
  11. L is for love - you do it in the context of a community. The outcome is important to other people and you have support.
  12. D is for difficult.
  13. O is for optional - you choose to do it.

If a goal doesn’t have all these elements, consider redefining your goal. For example, a salesperson who is trying to win ten deals next year will find that taking those orders is not within his or her control. Customers have to agree; and economic factors come into play.

However, the salesperson can set the goal to do everything possible to win ten deals next year. By defining an objective in this manner, all responsibility for bringing the project to completion lies with the salesperson, and he or she wastes no time worrying about forces beyond his or her control.

Another element that frequently requires a little thought is the last one, which is that the goal be optional. If your boss comes in to tell you to complete a project by next week, that’s not your goal. Your goal is to get a promotion.

You alone choose your pursuits. You alone are responsible for reaching the goals you set.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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