How are you doing with the goals you set earlier in the year? Have you accomplished them or have you gotten off track? It’s not uncommon for people to not want to review their goals, especially if they know they have not made the progress they hoped for. The feeling of discouragement can become overwhelming when we see a lack of progress and know we aren't where we had hoped to be by now when the goal was originally set.
In January, you set your goals for the new year. Let's say you wanted to exercise three days a week for an hour. This goal is like getting on an airplane. You are all buckled in your seat and ready for take-off. You know the goal. It is written down and you feel comfortable with where you are going.
The plane starts down the runway, shakes, and surges as it gains speed. All of a sudden, it is February. You likely have taken a couple of steps toward goal attainment. You are gaining speed and you can feel the inertia of the plane starting to lift off. In regard to your goal, maybe you called around to see what gym would best fit your needs. You went out and bought new exercise clothes and maybe some shoes. The feeling and speed of the change feels good.
Then comes March. The plane reaches 30,000 feet, the seatbelt sign comes off, and the plane levels out, and the exercise doldrums set in. You no longer feel the rush of take-off. You no longer can sense the speed of the plane. This is when goal attainment becomes difficult. When it feels like you are not making any progress at all.
THE FEELING IS NOT REAL
The interesting thing to me is the lie our emotions give us in this context. While the positive “dopamine” feeling of starting something new may be gone, the important thing to realize is that the plane is still going 450 miles an hour, even though you can’t feel it. You are still moving. You are still experiencing progress. Even though Q2 is gone and we have said goodbye to May, June, and July YOU are still flying. Realize your plane is in the air. You have not crashed. YOU HAVE NOT FAILED!
Instead of assuming that you're way off track and that you've already failed, step back and look at your goal objectively. Think about when you set the goal, were they SMART goals? Most likely you've heard this acronym, and even used them when setting goals, but it is a helpful tool to check up on your goals or even get back on track.
Was it Specific? When getting specific with your goal, consider why and how you want to achieve it and not merely the definition of your goal. Perhaps you want to work on developing young leaders. Your why might be because your want to prepare them for more responsibility in the future and your how will be through professional development workshops or one-on-one mentoring sessions.
Was it Measurable? Are you able to see where you are right now and where you'll end up? If you are not able to track the progress of obtaining the goal along the way, you'll have a hard time seeing if you succeeded in the end or stay motivated along the way.
Was it Achievable and Realistic? The A and R in our acronym go hand in hand. When you figure out your goal, how to do it, and its deadline, you have to think about the parameters and circumstances that will make it possible. At this point, something may have come up in the last 6 months that have changed your circumstance and deterred your goal. That's okay. Life happens. Instead of seeing it as a failure or no longer attainable, just think about what changes need to be made to your goal, the plan, or the timeline. Don't be tempted to start from scratch, instead, make less work for yourself by simply re-evaluating and tweaking what's already in progress and steer it back on track.
Was it Time-bound? Some of you may have set goals that you've already completed. Others might feel the pressure of the time ticking away. Use the time as positive pressure to get the work done, not to stress you out. If you feel constrained, give yourself a break and allow yourself more time. If it's a project with a deadline, reach out to your team or manager and see how you can work together to get it completed. Also, consider how you are using your time and what could be distracting you from focusing on your goal. What do you need to implement personally to give yourself time and focus to achieve this goal?
Most importantly, remember the why behind your goal and the reasons that motivated you to set the goal in the first place. Visualize what it will look like for you and your team when that goal is accomplished. Grab a coach or mentor and share with them your SMART goal. Listen to any advice they have for you.
Be encouraged by the progress you have made so far. Keep yourself in the air and land that goal safely on the ground.