I originally wrote this for my other blog, which focuses on individual and business development. As I was writing it, I realized that this is also time for musicians, especially those in academia, to be setting goals. The examples used may focus on business, but the principles will prove true for musicians as well.

Enjoy! Shane Griffin

Most failed new initiatives, both individual and organizational, fail not because of a lack of skill, but because of one of two other factors: poor planning or poor communication.  Both of these breakdowns can be mitigated with an effective goal-setting strategy. As 2012 approaches, many individuals, teams, and organizations are setting goals and gearing up for a successful year.  Let’s look at a simple process that will help foster success.

Important Note: Be aware that there are many variations of SMART goal setting, and this version includes a very critical element: results-oriented. We’ll define that when we get to “R,” but note that not all SMART goal systems are created equal.

Specific: This is the first critical element for success.  If your goal is simply to “increase sales,” you’ve failed already.  That may be a fantastic result to focus on while developing other goals, but in and of itself, it is too vague. Sticking with the sales example, “increase new business development calls” is far more specific, or perhaps, “increase my average cost per sale.”  You get the idea.  Another example of a non-specific goal could be “make the facility more safe.”  Perhaps “reduce the number of safety incidents in the fabrication department” would be a better starting point.

Measurable: If a goal is not able to be measured, what is the point?  Sure you can do a subjective analysis after the fact, attempting to judge if you’ve been successful.  If you do this, you have removed all accountability, and frankly achievement, from the goal.  You can measure anything quantifiable: pounds lost, number of new business development calls made, size of average deal, time spent on a specific task, increased revenue, decrease in body mass, etc.  You get into trouble when you try to measure subjective feelings.  Don’t even try.  Let those feelings be the RESULT you are shooting for, and make a measurable change that will result in those subjective feelings.

Achievable: This is self-explanatory.  Set goals that you can accomplish.  Set goals that you may have to REACH for, but make sure they are attainable.  Be aware absolutes such as “100%” or “zero mistakes.”  When you set yourself up for failure, you defeat yourself psychologically.  This leaves you apt to give up or worse yet, not set goals for your next project.   If you have a large goal, break it into smaller, more manageable goals.

Results-Oriented: Simply put, define the purpose behind your goals.  This provides an opportunity to inject motivation into your goals.  WHY are you pursuing this goal?  If you are setting a goal to decrease safety violations, why?  Are you trying to decrease fines?  If you are set a goal to work out 3 times a week, why?  Do you want to run a 5K in 3 months?  Do you want to fit in an old outfit?  Define a result to your goal, and you are FAR more likely  to stick with it.  It keeps your personal, driving force in sight.

Time-Phased: Assign a timeline for completion.  This obviously ties back to achievable and measurable.  It allows you to objectively measure the success of your efforts.  Remember to make the timeline manageable.  If you are trying to lose 50 pounds, two weeks probably is not enough time.  If you are trying to increase the number of your sales calls, a year is probably not an effective measurement timeframe.  Daily is probably a better timeframe to track success.

Remember, all of these elements must work together.  If something is measurable, but not time-phased, it won’t be an effective goal.  If you can measure it, and assign a result to it, but it is not achievable, you will feel defeated.  Walk through this checklist for every goal you make to ensure that you have written an effective goal.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on December 24, 2011 by Shane Griffin.

Dave Gerhart
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