What is a goal? On the face of it this is a simple question but like most things, it is not so simple. I’ve written extensively about the qualities of a goal. The goal must describe an outcome as distinct from an activity. The outcome is something you can assess whether it has been completed or not. Activities have no end point, they describe ongoing action. While this is important and useful, it doesn’t describe what a goal is.
Why is this important?
You may be wondering why should I care? Well, if you don’t know what something is, the chances of creating a good one are low. I will confess, I hadn’t thought about what a goal is until now. It hit me in a coaching session last week when I was discussing goals with a client. I said a goal is your reason for taking action.
If the goal is your reason for taking action, that reason had better connect to what is important to you. When it does, you will naturally give it your best effort. If it doesn’t, the likelihood of achieving it is much lower. In other words, a good goal generates commitment to achieve it.
As leaders we set goals all the time but how many truly connect to what other people care about? I suspect not many and this is a big reason why management and leadership can be so difficult. We are trying to get people to take action on things they don’t care about. The answer is simple. Invest the time to explain why the goal is important and join the dots to what other people, who will take action, care about. If you can do this, your chances of success are much higher.