Goal Setting - How To Set Goals And Why You Should Have Them
In 1979, Harvard conducted a survey wherein they asked the graduating MBA class: “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”
- 3% in the class had written goals and plans
- 13% had unwritten goals
- 84% had no goals at all
What the graduates weren’t made aware of was that it wasn’t just a single question survey; it was the start of a 10 year study.
Ten years later, in 1988, Harvard researchers reached out to those same 1979 MBA graduates. The findings?
The 3% of individuals with written goals had built a higher net worth than the other 97% combined! To be exact, the 13% with unwritten goals earned twice as much as the 84% with no goals. Even more incredible, the 3% with written goals and plans earned ten times as much as all the others put together.
What’s the point? Writing down your goals and a plan of attack for achieving them is a sure fire way to achieve more. 2021 is right around the corner - write down your goals!
There are countless ways to set goals and I will outline a few that have worked for me here. While these are the methods that have worked extremely well for me, not every method that works for me will work for you - That is the beauty of posts like this - Because you, the reader, are able to dissect a post and choose methods you believe will work for you.
No matter the method, the goals have to be SMART, meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related. You’re a smart person and we both know that, so I’m sure you already know that though. SMART goals or not, the pitfall for a lot of people and the main thing I like to focus on specifically, is the action plan behind the goals. There needs to be specific action plans for each of your goals and each goal needs to have measurable metrics to track progress.
E.g., let’s say you’re in sales and you want to earn $200,000 in 2021. How many sales would you need between Jan 1-Dec 31? Now break that down even further into quarterly goals - how many sales would you need per quarter to hit that annual goal?
Now, break it down even further into a weekly or bi-weekly goal of X sales needed. The next thing to do for this example would be to figure out, on average, how many leads or cold calls it takes for you to convert someone into a sale. Let’s say, based on your sales from last year, you made 1 conversion for every 11 leads you had or cold calls you made.
Perfect, now do the math and figure out exactly how many leads you’d need to be in contact with or cold calls you’d need to make on a daily basis to hit your weekly/bi-weekly goal.
Break down all of your goals into the most minute detail with measurable, time-based metrics in place to ensure you’re on track. The only person that can hold yourself accountable then, is you.
Warren buffet’s 5/25 is great way to narrow down your goals.
Pareto’s principle. This video is a provides a fantastic breakdown of the 80/20 rule.
When it comes to setting my goals, I break them down by category: Professional, personal, and a new one that I started in 2020, is happiness.
The happiness meter.
Jesse Itzler gave a ted talk on this and it’s been a game changer for me in finding fulfillment and happiness. I’ll link the talk below the exercise, because I take his exercise a step further. Here’s the exercise:
Grab a pen and a sheet of paper. Write down every category of your life that you can think of - Health, wealth, family, relationship with significant other, your job/career, etc. Write down every category you can think of.
Now, quickly think about each category and give them a score from 1-10, 1 being the absolute worst and 10 meaning that you are 100% fulfilled with that category in your life and not a single thing could be changed to make it any better or to have that category provide you with any more happiness or fulfillment.
What are your scores?
When Jesse did this exercise on a stage in front of ~500 Wall Street employees, he asked if anyone had a score of 7 or below. The majority of the room raised their hands. This is the issue with a score of 7 or below: If you got a 70% on the most important exam of your life, that’s a C-. If you got lower than that, it’s worse. Is that acceptable to you? I hope it’s not.
This gives you a visual representation of things or categories of your life that you, yourself, rated and it depicts the areas in your life that need improvement. How can that area or those areas be improved? Develop SMART goals for each and devise measurable metrics that you can put in place to make sure you’re on track to achieving those goals and bettering those areas of your life.
Aside from goals, I started doing monthly challenges back in 2020 and several friends joined me in this with their own challenges.
These are fun, but challenging, and I recommend giving it a try in 2021. For this, just come up with 1-2 things to do every day for one month. For me, I had things I wanted to do more of, like reading, running, and yoga.
So, one month my challenge was to run 1 mile a day for the entire month. Another month was to read for 30 minutes before bed. These challenges are non-negotiable and you should never skip a day, unless due to extreme, unforeseen circumstances.
Other challenges included only taking cold showers (turning the shower on just enough so that it is on the absolute coldest temperature setting), waking up at 4:30am, no added sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free, sleeping with the cell phone (and other electronics) on chargers outside of the bedroom, intermittent fasting, and quite a few more.
Luckily, a lot of the habits stuck and I’m now running more, reading more, not sleeping in the same room as my phone, drinking less alcohol, not eating within 2hrs of bed, etc.