Goal Setting: Art and Science

So, we've given you our philosophies... now it's time for some tangibles.  Goal achievement starts with proper goal setting... and proper goal setting is both an art and a science.  Since I'm the left-brainer, I want to walk you through some tangible things you can do to create life changing goals.  Straight line thinking through a process can sometime lead to new and innovative ideas... First, some basics -- Goals should always be S.M.A.R.T.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. If you haven't seen this acronym before or need more information about what "SMART" goal setting is, I would recommend clicking here to review more information.

Emeril Lagasse
Emeril Lagasse

But beyond the basics, there are a couple elements to goal setting beyond the basics that, to quote the venerable Emeril Lagasse, kick it up a notch.  Yes, even Emeril Lagasse can be a muse...

SMART goals are important.  But you can't stop there.  There is one other essential ingredient for goal achievement -- accountability.  Goals with out accountability are really just dreams.  Accoutability is the engine that drives your activities to reach your goals.

It's an interesting phenomena -- when the IRS announces an increase in tax audit activity, the following year finds fewer people being creative in their deductions (hmmm... I guess installing a hot tub wasn't solely for the purpose of bad back rehabilitation...) Being held accountable ensures a better, more honest effort towards the goal.

Some experts recommend an "Accountability Buddy" -- a relationship between two people to help keep each other accountable to their goals.  I like this idea...  but I think there may be a more sophicated method to personal accountability.

Before we jump into that method, I think there is another ingredient of successful goal setting that is often overlooked -- I'll call it the "Sounding Board".  Typically, goals are personal -- and as such, they are set and evaluated by the same individual.  Shouldn't a person be the best judge of quality of the own goals?  To be honest -- I think the answer is no.  Yes, we humans have a natual self-interest and should know our own desires better than anyone else -- but that same focus blinds us to some harsh realities.  It's very hard for us to be completely honest with ourselves... and frequently a "reality check" is needed from an outside source to keep our goals in check.

Let me clarify -- I am NOT recommending that we all allow our goals to be set by others.  But I am saying that we have a means of determining the validity of the goal.  I'm not suggesting allowing in "dream killers" nor am I suggesting finding  "pie in the sky" advisors... I'm asking you to get some checks and balances on your goals.  To do that, you need to people who care about you to reflect back to you what they see in your capabilities.

And that brings me right back to the premise I mentioned previously.  Here it is: Instead of relying on an "accountability buddy" to hold you steady in your goal aspirations, and instead of relying solely on your own (possibly skewed) visions on valid goals, why not ask the people who care about you the most to help form a committee of personal advisors to help guide you in both your goal setting and accountabilities to those goals. Six to eight people, each with a different type of relationship with you, each of whom's opinion you value... working together as a team of advisors to help guide your decision making process.  The accountability to a group of people is higher than it is to just one person.  The input of mulitple people on the goal setting "quality" give you ample and diverse thoughts, relevant specifically to you.

In future blog entries, we can examine how to choose the right people and how to manage your advisor to get the most benefit from their experiences and advice. 

Start think about it.  Think of 8 people in your life that would be helping in help you craft goals and acheive your aspirations.  Who are they?  What are their relationships to you?

Leave comments below... I'm interested to see the variety of  responses on this.