It’s difficult not to think about Goal Setting this time of year. Resolutions are in the air and many of you have probably made a few of your own. The making of resolutions, of course, is followed by the breaking of resolutions. Goals set are sometimes achieved and sometimes not.
Part of the problem could be that many kinds of goal setting don’t work. You’ve probably heard the basic outlines of goal setting: we are supposed to make them “SMART” - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. However, we are also supposed to “reach for the stars” and set huge ambitious goals.
Does goal setting like this actually work? Well, yes and no.
Small, focused goals that are believed to be well within reach turn out to be far more motivating that “Big Huge Audacious” goals. These goals should be SMART and communicated clearly to everyone who can help achieve it.
Some Link Crew and WEB programs focus on specific goals like:
• Getting 90% of 6th graders to orientation this year
• Personally checking in with each of our students in the first two weeks
• Reducing tardies among freshmen by 10% in the first semester
These kind of targeted, focused, time-bound goals can be helpful, but even these aren’t completely necessary to have a fantastic program.
For Brian Scully at Starpoint Middle School in New York, they focus on large themes that align with the strengths of their current WEB leaders.
“For this year's group, who are very generous and empathetic, we have focused on really reaching out one on one. Last year’s leaders were a more energetic, loud, dance party kind of group so we did bigger events. Our goals match the strengths of our leaders.”
For the Link Coordinators at Tamalpais High School in Northern California they set internal goals as an adult team but keep their Link Leaders focused on simply creating a great climate day in and day out for their 9th graders.
“The goals that we follow are the ones we set for ourselves as a coordinator team so that we can better support the Link Leaders and model the kind of support we are expecting them to offer their freshmen.”
For us at The Boomerang Project, we do set yearly goals in terms of the number of schools and teachers we hope to impact. These tangible time-bound goals do help focus us, but far more powerful is our driving long term focus to change the culture of schools across the US, Canada and the world.
Recent research into goal setting validates that it is not necessary to have relentless goal setting to achieve extraordinary results. What is necessary is absolute focus and dedication to the difference you are trying to make.
Instead of a program resolution that you may or may not achieve, maybe this year you can simply revisit your focus and intention. What kind of program are you trying to create? What do you need to do each day to reinforce that focus?
Having a relentless passion will certainly help you achieve your dreams, although it’s possible a few focused goals may help along the way!
Happy New Year!
To learn a little more about Goal Setting research, look at some of the following links:
Book Recommendation: “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt
A business story for a chilly January. “The Goal” is a business lesson coached as a novel. Highly readable, a little bit geeky and highly informative, it will have you thinking about logistics and organization in a whole new way. “The Goal” is considered required reading in many MBA leadership and management courses and I think it offers insights far beyond a manufacturing plant.