You know, I have to admit, when I was first approached about writing a blog post around goal setting I thought, Man, how am I gonna do this? I don’t know the first thing about it. If only there was some way to, I don’t know, write things down that I want to accomplish. A way to track those things so I can focus on ’em—get ’em done in a certain amount of time. Things like—and I’m just spitballing here—write a blog post, maybe? Man, that would be awesome. Anyway, I’ll figure it out.
So back to my dilemma: blog post, goal setting—what to do, what to do? Yeah, I know, right about now you’re probably thinking, “Why in the hell did they pick this guy? Does he even know what he’s talking about? He doesn’t, right? He said it right up front!” Well, I’ll have you know, you’re right. I don’t know what I’m talking about. But lucky for us, I was sent in the direction of someone who does. So I sat down with our resident goal setter extraordinaire, Meghan Patrick-Crane (MPC), senior talent manager here at Firewood. Meghan was kind enough to share her thoughts on what goal setting is, how to get started, and even pointed out some added benefits that I found particularly interesting. Here’s what I learned.
First, goal setting is a thing
Who knew? (Don’t answer that!) “Goal setting, in its simplest form, is setting up an organized list of what you want to accomplish and what you have accomplished,” she began.
OK, simple enough.
“But what it means in the workplace is to go outside of your day-to-day responsibilities and think about expanding what you want to do in your role.”
And then she went on to say something that really resonated with me: “It’s important to set goals because we as professionals and as humans want to grow, and goals give us a concrete way of doing that.”
Well, when you put it that way, how can I say no? I mean, we all want to grow, right? Riiiight?
Second, there are different types
Wait, what? Seriously? Oh boy!
“The most common types are SMART goals and stretch goals. SMART goals allow you to create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based objectives. While stretch goals are for the loftier, broader big-picture goals that you want for yourself,” said MPC.
“OK, that’s not too bad and definitely doable,” said me, but with my inside voice. (Shout-out to all the parents out there!)
Third, it’s never too late to start
Actually, setting goals isn’t something I’ve always done,” MPC confided. “But since I’ve started, it’s helped me stay on track.”
“That’s cool, but how do I even begin?” I said, this time with my outside voice.
MPC’s advice: “I think it should be as organic as possible. It should start with whatever you want to accomplish that comes to mind first. Just start small and easy.”
She went on to say, “You can even start with something you’ve already done. A trick I’ve used is to look at what I’ve already accomplished—I might think about things I’ve done in the last month that I’m really, really proud of—and set that as a goal, then check it off [laughing].”
“It’s a good way to give yourself a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, which can get you in the right mind-set to start setting more goals.”
OK, so start organically, think small, and keep it easy.
How about: write an 850-word (or so-ish) blog post by the end of the month? But is that smart? If you ask my boss, yes, that would be smart.
But it’s also SMART because it’s specific (write a blog post), measurable (finished or not), achievable (within my abilities), relevant (makes sense for my job), and time-based (due by the end of the month).
So yeah, check, check, and check.
Fourth, it’s tough to stay on track, but not impossible
So now let’s say I’m full steam ahead, setting goals and taking names. But now I’m getting into bigger, more complex goals. Then boom! I hit a wall. I’m suddenly off track. What do I do? How do I make sure I stick with it?
“That’s why all the different parts of a SMART goal are so important,” MPC explains. “Is it specific? Is it measurable? Is it achievable? Is it relevant? Is it time based? That’s the point of SMART goals—they don’t allow you to be confused about any aspect, and that helps you stay on track.”
Another great tip from MPC was to not set a goal that’s going to be too much work for you to address. “It should be something that either pertains to your day-to-day life that you need to improve upon or you’re motivated enough to pay attention to regularly.”
Fifth, it’s a good way to relieve stress (seriously)
OK, if I’m being honest, and clearly I am, this is the one that really convinced me to give this whole goal setting thing a go—goals with benefits!
According to MPC, “By getting your intentions down in a concrete place, you’re taking that stress out of your head and putting it down on paper. So goals help you feel organized and free up space in your mind.”
Ding, ding, ding! Sold! And judging by that little sneak peek I just gave you into this mind, you know I can use all the space I can get.
SMART goals, here I come!