Goal setting is ubiquitous in modern society, with success in business, sport, or the military relying in large part upon the participants having clearly defined objectives. After all, no one sets out on a journey without knowing the destination...
The Army Leadership Code describes goal setting as a "versatile and effective coaching tool to focus attention in order to improve individual or team performance." Breaking down long-term objectives into short-term goals allows for immediate improvements in performance to be identified. The Army, like many organisations both large and small, is a firm believer in the power of SMART goals, but what are they?
Much has been written about goal setting in business. The legendary Zig Ziglar, a World War II veteran, sales trainer, and motivational speaker, famously stated "if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." In other words, without goals you cannot measure your company’s progress or indeed that of yourself or your staff, to say nothing of accountability.
Try thinking of goals in geographical terms for your business - it's imperative to know you are on the right path and heading in the right direction.
A common misconception is that only 'big picture' goals matter in business. This is untrue. All goals are important, no matter the size.
In fact, achieving smaller goals can help you work towards bigger ones, generating motivation and momentum along the way. A reliable indicator of an organisation's health is whether it has a clear set of regularly and consistently updated goals to help it achieve its objectives.
Virgin founder Richard Branson is a lifelong fan of goal setting and a firm believer in physically writing them down. This approach is backed by research which shows that you are 42 per cent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis.
Branson also recommends having short-and long-term goals, as he says it’s motivational to rack up small successes while working toward loftier resolutions.
"If you set daily goals and work through your list every day, you can mark off every completed task with a satisfying tick” he says. “This helps keep you motivated to aim for the big targets.”