How to Set Goals to Achieve Your SMART Objectives
Most people who set out to achieve a goal fail. Yet without a goal, we certainly will not achieve it. So how do we utilize this possible failure to propel us toward smart objectives? This post details Program on Persuasion’s steps to success on how to set goals.
Why We Fail: What Not to Do In Your Smart Goals Template
Most attempts to change fail not because you had a bad plan or a bad strategy or because the person was incompetent. Rather, we fail because we did not execute.
The Emotional Cycle of Change: The Psychology of Failure versus Smart Objectives
In their widely cited 1979 article “The Emotional Cycle of Change,” Don Kelley and Daryl Conner present an insightful and cautionary model of voluntary change. It details how to set goals effectively.
When trying to change their behaviors, people move through these five stages of emotion:
- Uninformed Optimism
- Informed Pessimism
- Valley of Despair
- Informed Optimism
- Success and Fulfillment
To see how this type of smart goal setting template affects the business relationship with your potential clients, click here to download our Customization and Execution eBook.
The first stage of change is most often exciting, as we imagine all of the benefits and have not yet experienced and none of the costs. We see the desired results but we do not see the activities or commitments they require. For almost everyone in this program, Uninformed Optimism is the stage at which you’re stationed.
As you learn more about the reality of what it takes to change, positive emotions can quickly sour. The second stage of change, informed pessimism, is characterized by a shift to a negative emotional state. At this point, the benefits don’t seem as real, important, or immediate, and the costs of the change have become apparent.
In the former stage, the Informed Pessimism stage, you question if the change is really worth the effort and begin to look for reasons to abandon the it. This can happen quickly if you are not informed of what measures the goal requires, or if you are not committed.
This transition happens publicly or privately. Some will publicly complain, and some will just quit. When publicly pessimistic, the person is honest with their struggles and they can receive help. On the other hand, those checking out privately appear to remain on-board with the project. They conceal their loss of confidence and their plans to abandon ship, and they gesture at effort and commitment.
Valley of Despair
We will call stage three, the Valley of Despair, the Point of No Return. Meaning this is the decision point. At this stage, we will either turn back to our comfort zone, or we will push past our circle of comfort.
We can, however, plan for moving through this Valley by providing steps to success up front. If we plan for this discouraging valley, we are much more likely to pull through it.
At the stage of informed optimism, your likelihood of success is much higher. This is when your lead activities move toward your goal. According to the graph above, you are back in the positive emotional area of the cycle because the costs of change are lessened. Your new thoughts and actions are becoming more routine. The key at this stage is to not stop!
To learn smart goals examples and understand how they affect the business relationship between you and your prospective customer, click here for Program on Persuasion’s Customization and Execution eBook.
Success and Fulfillment
At this final stage of change, the benefits of your new behaviors are fully experienced and the costs of change are virtually gone. The actions, which at the beginning were difficult and uncomfortable, have now become routine.
Things to Remember
- Optimism often directly relates to the expectations of what will be involved in the project.
- The further from your comfort zone you are pushed, the more pessimistic you become about your ability or willingness to complete the project.
- Attitude—optimism or pessimism—is a function of the information available.
If we anticipate the challenges, we can overcome and thrive. We need to develop our goal and our plan to get there now.
Smart Goal Setting Template
The final modules establish a process that involves the following steps:
- Set the desire by creating a goal.
- Identify the lead activities.
- Measure your performance.
- Hold yourself accountable.
Create a SMART goal setting template with enough stretch that its benefits excite you. Our goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
From X to Y by When
Ideally, we will have only one goal, but you can have more. Keep in mind, though, that each additional goal dilutes your focus.
Your goal should be set to the timetable of twelve weeks. Any longer than that and the goal is too far into the future to have any urgency.
Some examples include goals regarding revenue, income, number of appointments with key targets, and share of wallet goals with existing accounts.
Don’t skip past the step of establishing the goal. If you do, when you get to the Valley of Despair in the Emotional Cycle of Change, you are very likely to return to your comfort zone.
Photo by Olu Eletu.