How often have you been in a work situation where the boss or supervisor announces a team goal. It may be the annual fund raising goal, or the number of clients to be seen, or the number of attendees for a conference. Sometimes the goal seems realistic and quite doable; sometimes it’s a stretch goal that you are immediately skeptical of achieving. How does your personal psychology, commitment, and enthusiasm change depending on the expectation your boss puts forth?
What about expectations for your personal success? How do you set and manage those?
For example, you’re wearing a Fitbit but you continue to use the elevator at work. You want to save money on eating out, yet day after day you forget to pack a lunch. You think you should start graduate school on a part-time basis, but you miss the application deadline again. You’re tired of your job, but you haven’t found time to update your resume.
Maybe those are hopes rather than real goals. Or maybe you don’t think you can actually achieve the goals you set, so you self-sabotage by missing the goal time and again.
If this is the case, it might be time to rethink and manage your goal setting process. In addition to setting a realistic goal, add a column for stretch goals. Can you walk 5000 steps a day — even when you have several hours of meetings? If so, make 6000 your realistic goal, and 8000 your stretch goal. That gives you a good chance for success, but also provides encouragement for going further. If you enjoy going out to lunch with your colleagues, decide to bring your lunch to work two days per week. After you have achieved that, go to your stretch goal of bringing your lunch for half (or ten days) of each month. Or find a firm 20 minute period at the same time each day when you will work on your resume. Keep at it until your resume is updated. Then work on your stretch goal of getting it on LinkedIn and other electronic venues.
It is important to not only set, but to raise, expectations for yourself. Think like that athlete who wants to shave a second or two off her best time, or the top fund raiser who increases her quota for the coming year. Make sure your own goals are not only clear bit challenging as well, and then keep working towards them.