Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Goal Setting Primer

This is a summary of all the important things you need to remember about goals, with links to my earlier blogs for more detail.  Tack this to your bulletin board as a reminder.

1.  Set Goals!  The mere act of setting even general goals helps direct attention to relevant activities.*  Keep your life and work more relevant by setting goals.

2.  Set Goals as Outcomes.  Focus on what you really want, the results – not the activities.

3.  SMRT.  Make sure that ALL your goals are Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound.  The more specific the goals, the more explicitly performance is regulated.*

4.  SMART v. 1.0:  Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good to use if failing at it will have many negative consequences.

5.  SMART v. 2.0:  Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance.  Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*  But you have to be willing to accept the possible risks of failure.

6.  SMART v. 3.0:  Almost Impossible Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal.  “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it.  You have an opportunity for Breakthrough Performance with Almost Impossible Goals.

7.  Almost Impossible Goals are based on the philosophy that “Great Leaders Have a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible.”  Many things that people once thought impossible have been accomplished.  Set goals that inspire you and go for it!

8.  Celebrate Noble Failure.  If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about.  This approach will bring you more long term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.

If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance and satisfaction.  Good luck with all of your goals!

I will write up an article discussing the eight goal-setting blogs and will post it as a free download on my web site by July 15, 2012.  Check it out then – SMART move.

*Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P.  A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice Hall, 1990.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.


  1. Almost Impossible Goals perhaps are best suited for long term, life time goals.

  2. Super helpful!!!! Thanks for the advice.Very informative tips thanks for sharing.