Curious How Others Got it All Done?

Monthly Goals: Survey Results
November 25, 2013

The questions “do you set monthly goals and review them monthly?” hit a nerve.  Thank you very, very much for responding.  I learned a lot especially from your comments.  I hope you too will find the results instructive.  207 of you responded.  The majority (69%) does not set monthly goals.  Of those who set monthly goals 71% (46 responses) review them monthly.  Although not asked a few volunteered that:

  • They set weekly goals (30) & reviewed them weekly (23); and
  • 3 set annual goals.

The most common reasons given for not having monthly goals were:

  • Never occurred to me to set monthly goals
  • Don’t have that level of control in my life to set monthly goals and/or hold myself accountable to achieve them.

However, other themes emerged:

  • Too depressing to repeatedly fail to achieve the goals so have stopped trying
  • Deliverables do not have metrics so do not deliberately set goals
  • Goals are broken down in to either long-term (quarterly or yearly goals) or short-term (daily or weekly)

By the way, the vast majority of respondents (over 90%) set daily goals and To Do lists

Well there you have it!

Based on your feedback there are lots of worthy discussions to be had about goal setting, high performance, and happiness.  Nevertheless, I promised you a tip.  After reading your comments and the highly disruptive week I have just had I decided to change what I was going to say.

I meant to deliver this message to you a week ago.  Instead, when I was finalizing the message I learned that a dear friend had unexpectedly entered hospice.  I dropped my work and left for what I thought was a weekend to say goodbye.  I returned home exhausted after five days once he had passed peacefully away.  It was a transformative experience and an honour to sit by his bed as he laboured fearlessly into eternity.

What has this got to do with goals?  Well, life is full of interruptions and surprises that get in the way of our plans.  Loosing a week of work has done havoc to my plans but that is OK.  None of my written “crucial results” for the week were more important or urgent than being with my friend and his family for those five days.  Life’s disruptions are no excuse to avoid setting goals, however.

Here are some thoughts I have based on your comments:

  • Our behaviour is determined by our thoughts.  We move towards what we are thinking about.  If we are thinking short-term (e.g., one day at a time) then we are at the mercy of daily changes in our environment.  We float in an ocean of currents beyond our control.  As our horizon gets longer and our goals clearer we are better able to judge where we are relative to where we want to be; however, that requires us to routinely and deliberately seek feedback — including negative feedback — and to check in with our values. Am I on track or off track? What are the sales numbers? What do scales say? Am I current with my reading goals?
  • Achieving longer-term goals requires one to believe that one’s locus of control is inside of oneself and not primarily at the mercy of external factors.
  • It is hard to achieve longer-term goals (quarterly, annually, life-time, etc.) by jumping from a daily or weekly focus to a quarterly or annual focus.  There is not a smooth continuum.  Suddenly the quarter or year ends and one has avoided the (negative) feedback necessary to stay on track.  Therefore, I suggest setting monthly goals.

How you may ask?

  • Determine your annual or longer-term goals
  • Identify the quarterly crucial results
  • Identify the monthly goals/achievements/steps
  • Choose at least one but maximum of three crucial results for the week (too many goals and one easily gets distracted and overwhelmed)
  • Choose at least one but maximum of three crucial results for the day
  • Review your results on at least a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.  Life is never predictable so adjust your goals going forward based on what you have achieved and what is important to you.  If you have a disruptive week you may need to rollover goals to the following week or jettison them because there are more important activities requiring your attention based on your monthly and quarterly goals
  • When interruptions & crises interfere (absolutely guaranteed) it is imperative to know your priorities and whether addressing this interruption is worthy of your attention — do your values and priorities say that you should drop what you are currently doing to address the interruption?
  • If yes, then address the disruption and readjust your goal setting
Seek negative feedback and adjust activity accordingly
Smooth out your goal-setting periods
Hyper focus on your values and what is important to you

I welcome your thoughts, challenges, and ideas.

Thanks and regards

for audacious living!

Angela Nesbitt