Goal Setting vs Goal Achievement and Progress Measurement

Posted on September 6, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

So much is written about the process for goal setting and all sorts of tools, tips and guidance has been given. And yet many of us continue to struggle to achieve our goals – even when they are SMART or SMARTER. A well respected person in my network, Dr Stephanie Burns gained a PhD in Goal Achievement and she found that well written or well crafted goals are not enough – the true key to success is taking action. In fact just doing something that is one step closer to the goal is more important than the wording of the goal.

I suppose a comparison could be that a poor plan that is acted on is far better than a perfectly crafted plan that never gets applied. So ease up your focus on writing perfect goals and ramp up your focus on taking action towards those goals.

Most of us are also well versed in the need to measure and monitor our progress and activity. And that is why I am writing this post.

Today while at the gym I had an insight to how we can all too easily trip ourselves up in our action taking. Let me explain.

Working out on the treadmill I was taking good notice of the stats and my progress. Time, pace, distance and calories burned – not that I was really interested in that, I’m building stamina and fitness so it’s all about pace over distance and the time I take to cover that distance. And that got me thinking about how to best record my workout – I keep a workout diary.

Yet I also have a fitbit device which also records steps per day.

And I also have an app on my phone that tracks when I run or walk outside of the gym.

That means that I have at least three if not four (including the tracking capability of the equipment at the gym). My insight was that this could be confusing and at best complicated while I invest extra effort to link and correlate the data.

The insight? How often do we do this to ourselves at work and in our careers?

To some degree multiple points and sources of feedback are helpful as this creates a multi dimensional and complete picture.

However my question to you is how much data and feedback is too much? At what point do you draw the line and put a limit on the amount and sources of feedback that you receive.

It is time to take control of your goals, your actions and your progress measures.

Absolutely you need to have a goal – for without a purpose or something to move toward you will be at the mercy of whatever forces and currents surround you, like a leaf on a river – moving, making progress but at the whim of external forces and never in control of your direction or outcomes. Relaxing though it may be, in fact I have had yoga instructors encourage me to relax and imagine that my spine is floating like a leaf on a river. Yes, an example of how something can be helpful in one context and not in a different one.Hmm, sounds familiar to me and helpful in a way that says one size/solution does not fit all circumstances.

The purpose of this post is to remind you of two key success factors that you must keep in mind about achieving and reaching your goals.

The first is that a goal is important and the actions associated with and connected to that goal are more important.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, be alert to where you are getting feedback and progress measures from and make sure you are informed rather than confused by the feedback you are seeking.

If you are unsure about how much feedback you need or what value of the feedback you are getting has, then perhaps a mentor or coach can help you get some clarity.

Too much data does not necessarily equal information. Information is data presented in a useful, helpful and usable way.

When you are focusing on your goals remember to take consistent and aligned action and to measure your progress without being overwhelmed or confused by what you are being told.


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