5 Successful Goal Setting Tips for Female Leaders
“For me, goals are the road map to the life I want. They have helped me accomplish things I once thought were impossible.” Catherine Pulsifer.
As leaders and managers we are accustomed to setting goals for our teams and organisations and being actively involved in the goals the organisation has for our own performance. But do we really put as much time and effort into our own professional goals as we should?
In this article I provide five goal setting tips to help you accelerate your leadership impact:
1. Write your goals down
Amid our hectic lives it’s easy to forget to identify exactly what it is we want to achieve. Schedule time in your calendar, go to a place where you won’t have any disruptions, take a journal and write down exactly what you want to achieve in the next 6 months, year, 5 years and 10 years.
“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.” —Mark Victor Hansen
Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who can describe or picture their goals are anywhere between 1.2 – 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t, see Mark Murphy in Forbes.
Writing our goals down narrows our focus and turns our attention away from other priorities. When we write goals down we can set deadlines and break them down into smaller, actionable steps to give us a clearer picture of what needs to be done to achieve each step. Often, we fear setting stretch goals because we fear failure. But goals are important, instead of trying to move away from our past, goals give us something positive to work towards. “Where your focus goes, your energy flows.”
2. Establish your ‘why’
It’s critical to establish why this goal is important to you, how it will impact your life and career in both the short and long term and what it means to you. Establishing our ‘why’ is how we develop an emotional connection with our goals. It fuels what is often a slog to achieve those goals with our purpose. If your goals are fundamental to what you are doing on the planet, you’ll be more likely to commit yourself to their execution. The ‘why’ is what drives us, it’s our deep, personal motivation. And it is an important question to keep asking ourselves.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” —Pablo Picasso
3. SET SMART GOALS
SMART goal setting provides us with a framework against which to track our accomplishments. It helps us to create clear milestones and to evaluate our objectives.
Here’s a break down of the SMART goal setting system:
Being specific about what you want to achieve heightens your chances of success. So, for example, rather than saying “I want to be leading a new business function” say “I will be head of new business in EMEA sales function by 18th December 2019“. Decide where you’ll be on the completion of this goal, when it will occur and who will be there celebrating with you. The goal must state your ‘intention’ and how you will get there.
You need to be able to quantify your success, for example if you stated you wanted to be running a division, what division is it, how many people are you leading, what are you earning, what projects are you overseeing, what purpose are you serving, how is your success impacting your life? You need to set concrete milestones you will be hitting incrementally as you progress towards the achievement of your goal.
Set goals that are stretching AND set you up to win, not fail. If you set yourself unrealistic goals that are near impossible to accomplish within the time scale you specify, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Make sure your goals are stretching for sure but that you have the necessary resources, time and activities in place to accomplish what you want.
The goals you set must be relevant to your life and your role in the organisation. The people around you need to see those goals as relevant to your and their success. Irrelevant goals will not boost organisational success and they won’t help to develop you as a leader.
Having carefully thought through time frames is what makes the goal SMART. If you are fuzzy on the time lines for each goal, you run the risk of forgetting or setting them aside when other obligations and commitments arise.
4. Visualise your goals
“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.” Richard Bach
Visualising is a powerful tool and the key to realising our goals. You need to both ‘feel’ and ‘see’ the goal. Envision your goals as vividly as you can, imagine where you are, who is with you, what can you feel, see, hear and smell? As Jack Canfield states, “The daily practice of visualising your dreams as already complete can rapidly accelerate your achievement of those dreams, goals and ambitions“. When we visualise we trick our minds into believing we’ve already accomplished our desires, these thoughts stimulate our nervous system in exactly the same way as the real event would.
5. Celebrate your wins and reward yourself
Celebrating your success along the way and tracking small achievements is important. Reflecting on our progress enhances our motivation and helps us to appreciate ourselves more. Keep a record of your achievements, you can leverage the confidence boost this gives you to fuel greater successes going forward. Revel in the feelings of satisfaction and pride your small wins bring you, and feel your energy being renewed. Recognise that you are taking powerful action towards your goals, that you are taking responsibility for your life and career and altering your habits for the better.
“An average person with average talents and ambition and average education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.” Mary Kay Ash
Planning gives you a road map and a compass. It helps to reduce ambiguity and increases your commitment. It helps you stay on track and avoid spending time on things that won’t get you closer to your goal. It helps you to figure out how to say ‘no’ to those things not aligned to your plan.
Good goal setting gives us the confidence to step up to achieve our ambitions and aspirations. The better we undertake our goal setting then the better our compass will be to help navigate our way to personal and professional success. Go for it!