Goal setting is a powerful practice used by many businesses and individuals year after year as they begin their planning process for the upcoming period. It usually involves an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses and the development of a plan for improvement and a kick off filled with motivation and high spirits. So why is it that most goals fail? Why do most people and companies aim for their target after it is too late and never achieve them?
Many times you will hear that most goals fail is because of a failure to plan or to write down the goals, the truth is that there are many reasons goals fail and writing them down isn’t going to guarantee success but if you can learn from the reasons for failure below and apply action, goal setting can be a powerful tool to achieve success.
I. Not Specific Enough – The number one reason most goals fail is because they lack to specific. For a goal to truly have meaning and create a desire to act so you can achieve them, they have to have enough detail and be specific so you know what specifically you are trying to achieve. Too many people choose goals that are too generic, lack definition and have no timeframe attached to it. For a goal to be specific, it needs to be created in the present tense and include a time frame. For example, rather than say my goal is to lose weight, you would state, I am going to lose 10 lbs in 4 weeks. Companies often take a general approach to setting their targets and often fail to be specific enough to reach all of their goals. When you begin your planning process, be as specific as you can and give yourself deadlines to hold yourself accountable.
II. Too Many Goals, No Focus – Another mistake make companies and individuals make is that they set too many goals and then are unable to focus resulting in failure in all goals. Companies will allow each department to participate in their own goal setting process but will fail to align each departments goals to an over reaching goal that benefits the entire organization. Too many goals will create a competition for resources and demoralize staff because the will not be able to apply focus and priority. Create goals that are attainable for everyone in the organization and watch your company flourish. People like to win and be defining a specific focus and not overwhelming the team with multiple goals, you will have a team that is motivated, focused and goal – oriented who will achieve their goals each and every time.
III. Executive Only Planning – All too often, executives at companies develop targets and strategic plans that fail to connect or address organizational and operational challenges. These goals often fail because the people at the top of the organization are disconnected from the front lines and do not consider staff challenges, resources deficiencies and limited capabilities that exist in the current environment to effectively be able to build a roadmap to successful goal attainment. Although these plans often include a reward system for the staff once goal attainment is achieved, most staff members will not be motivated by the reward since the task at hand seems daunting, unattainable and unrealistic. Companies that include variou s levels of staff in the goal development and planning process will achieve more staff buy in and will significantly goal attainment.
IV. Too much focus on the plan, not the execution (action) – A good plan will provide the staff with what success looks like at the end of the journey. It will connect the entire organization and provide the steps that each person within the organization needs to take to reach the ultimate goal. But too often, the focus turns to the creation of the plan and not the actions necessary to achieve the plan. Many organizations go thru months and months of budgeting and planning and end up creating spectacular plans with high focused goals and meaningful targets but they fail to build the action plan or the roadmap to get them there. A plan without action is simply a wish. With every plan, there must be a step by step action plan with deliverable dates, resource assignment and milestones for measurement.