How to set goals

Though setting goals seems to be a straight foward process, still some theory on how to set goals may help you define your goals better. So here is how you can go about setting goals:

Self discovery : Figure out what you want in life
Once I attended an interesting workshop. The conductor of the workshop asked us a question. She asked, if we were given an option to be a bird or animal, what would we want to be, and why. She gave us ten minutes to think about it and write it down on a piece of paper. It was something that really set everyone thinking, it was a strange question, it was not like which bird or animal we like, but it was different, it was me as a bird or animal that made us think. Different people came with different responses, some wanted to be a lion for the power and strength it had, some wanted to be a geese for the freedom it enjoyed and the symmetry with which they flew along with the rest, in absolute harmony with their community. Everyone spoke what they wanted to be and why, and it was a good entertaining session. But the exercise was not meant for entertainment purpose, it was meant to take us towards self discovery . She asked wether the reasons we gave as to why we wanted be a particular bird or animal actually the things we wanted in life. It is was right, everyone nodded their heads, some wanted power and strength and hence saw themselves as lions. It was an enlightening experience, an insight I never had experienced before. This is something I would suggest everyone to do on their own to find out afterall what we want to be in our lives. And once we find our answers we can start on the next exercise of how we can achieve what we aspire for. What are
the things that we need to do, what should be our long term goals.

Goal setting : Set goals which lead you to what you want in life
1. Set long term goals first. Your long term goals should guide your short term goals.
2. Goals should be mutually workable. See to it that the goals don’t work against each other, as it will not help either of the two goals. Prioritise goals in order of importance, work accordingly.
3. Correct goal setting is important, one should not undermine the importance of well crafted goals. They will help  you all along your journey till you achieve your goal. Try and set SMART goals where each letter of the acronym SMART stands for in the order of the letters as, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound.

Plan your actions : Make plans of how you will achieve your goals
After setting goals, you have to figure out what all you need to do to achieve your goal, the action plans which you will implement to achieve your goal. Identifying only your goal and not putting a plan in place is undoing the good work of setting your goal. Goal setting answers the ‘What I want’ part of the question, Action planning answers the ‘how I will achieve it’. Both, goal setting and action planning are equally important.

Work your plans and track your progress : Keep your eyes open to see if you are going where you planned. Deciding what you want and putting a plan in place is one thing, implementing it is another. People set certain things as goals, because they are not trivial for them, and would require some effort in planning and working on them. What you need now is discipline, determination and persistence. Measure your progress all along till you achieve your goal. Plot graphs if required, engage with your goal by revisiting it, thinking about it, writing about your experience. These will help to reaffirm what you are upto and re-energise and keep the momentum going. If you don’t spend some time thinking about the goals each day, you will soon lose the focus required to achieve the goal.

Following a process is better than not following any, it atleast rules out failure to achieve goals on some counts, and that is a good enough reason to begin with and have a process in place.

Habits can change

New Year is here, and so are the new year resolutions that we make every year, only to be forgotten till another new year comes. For some it is a part of the new year festivities and as the festivities die, so do the resolutions. But this year can be different, you can make your resolutions and also keep them. To your help is a new website that helps you make your resolutions online and also track whether you are able to keep them. Breaking away with habit patterns that you would like to do away with or introduce new healthy habits in ones lifestyle is not easy for most as it takes both determination and persistence to change existing lifestyle patterns. People want to change because they are not happy the way things are, but until there is real steely resolve to precipitate that change, the whole thing just remains wishful thinking.

Habits are things which are a part of our system, one does not need to think and then do it, it is intuitive and happens automatically. But giving up old habit patters and forming new ones is not entirely impossible. Remember when you started learning how to drive a car, for every move that you made in the car you had to first think about it and then try and do it. It was difficult initially, wasnt it. But when you kept trying, the difficulty level started falling and came to such a level that eventually it became something that you started enjoying, it no more remained a chore it once was. Eventually every effort pays back with the joy of having accomplished what you started of with. This constant pursuit should be a part of each ones lives, because there are always thingw we can improve upon,  but don’t wait for new year’s wakeup call, every day is an opportunity. Hope you make some good resolutions this year and keep them too.

Pitfalls to achieving goals

1. Not excited about your goal. If you are excited about what you have set for yourself, chances are you will make it as compared to when you are not. So do whatever it takes to make it more exciting and interesting. One of the things that you can do is to interact and share with people having a similar interest or goal.

2. You doubt whether you will make it at the onset. If to begin with you doubt whether you will be able to make it, chances are you will not. Self belief is the key ingredient to achieving your goal. If you are in the game you ought to tell yourself that there is every chance of you winning and that you will do whatever it takes to win. Doubt = failure.

3. Soon the excitement fizzles out. Post the initial high when you really wanted to make things happen, if you are not able to maintain the same level of interest as you had in the initial days, of course you run out of fuel before you reach your destination.

4. Giving up a little too soon. Desirable things have a cost in terms of the effort and other resources you put in. And sometimes after all the hard work too you are not there and you pant and say how much more to go before I get there.  Everyone who has worked on tough goals would know that it is something that each one has to go through. Many would leave it at that and give up, but some who make it through these toughest later parts are the ones who successfully realise their dreams.

5. Failing to plan.You wanted to get there but did not plan how. You drifted and did not take note before you were way way off the direction. Planning and tracking are not just management terminology, this is something necessary for anything that you are serious about doing. Business houses will be out of business if they don’t do it and as individuals we will not realise anything either.

6. Trying to chew more than what you can eat. One day you are all excited and try to fix every ill in your life. You sit down and list all the things that you want to do. Big bang approaches like these don’t work. They say, ‘You can eat an elephant if you eat it in pieces’. So what is necessary is to see what can be achieved realistically and then plan and prioritise.

Importance of goal setting

Dictionary meaning of success is “a desired outcome”. This desired outcome when well defined is called a goal. So why do we need a well defined goal to be set. Lets cover the reasons one by one.

1. Statistical reason: Goal is a measure of success.  If you have not defined what your goal was, how do you know wether you were successul. You can only say that you or your team was successful when the goals set at the start were achieved. This becomes all the more important in case your performance is being measured against your set goals.

2. Ensures you hit the right target: The process of brainstorming of what goals should be set, provides opportunity to ensure that the goal is correct.  Correct, because one should not mistake an action plan as a goal. For example, getting up at 4:30 am in the morning may not be a goal in itself, the goal could be to send children to school on time.

3. Ensures there’s no collateral damage: If the mind is set too narrowly on the goal, then there are chances that you may end up with collateral damage. It is important that when goals are being thought of the context does not get missed. The completeness of what we really want should not get missed. Let me explain with an example, a manager guns for an extremely tight deadline and is making everyones life on the project miserable  to ensure to they don’t miss the target date as it is one of their project performance goals. What happens, some of the key people of the project decide to quit, because they cannot take it any more. Whats gone wrong, there are no goals for limiting attrition and there are no action plans either. Something got totally missed.  Completeness hence is the key to reducing collateral damange.

4. Provides platform for improvement: Once you achieve your goals, they become a benchmark of your performance. Now you can look forward to further improve you performance and rethink on your next set of action plans.

5. Brings in commitment: Democratically set goals in project team environments ensures team support and commitment, which in itself is sufficient to pull an otherwise tough project through.

6. Brings joy: Accomplishing goals gives you joy of having achieved what you had set out for. It helps build your credibility in case the goals where shared with others. It helps boost your confidence too.

Though there would other significant reasons for setting goals, these are the ones which are at the top of my mind. In case you have more ideas on this, let us know. Learning never ends.

Personal Quality checklist

When I joined the organisation I used to work for, there was a lot of management focus on Personal Quality. Our organisation was working with Dr. Harry V Roberts, Prof. of Statistics and Quality Management at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago. One of the tools that he wanted us to work with was a Personal Quality Checklist, something similar to what Benjamin Franklin pioneered over two centuries ago. Franklin planned to inculcate thirteen virtues in his life, temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquillity, chastity and humility and used to maintain a checklist to check his shortcomings. The idea of talking about the personal quality checklist here is of course to tell you that, this is something that you can try for yourself using The simple idea of stroking ticks when you make it or just stroking a wrong will make you aware whether you have inculcated something that you would like to keep as a habit or failed at it. And the awareness that you have not made it will surely spur you to make more efforts in the direction to succeed. So try it and share your experience.

Added a simple todo list

I just added a simple todo list which can be launched from the landing page. The idea was to have the activities which are part of your action plans and the todo list appear side by side so that you don’t have to maintain two lists in separte applications. The todo list is pretty basic today, I will see how more features can be added to it to make it more meaningful for use. Any feedback on this is welcome.

Whats new for year 2009

Every new year brings with it a hope for better tomorrow. New resolutions are made, some are kept some forgotten. But is not every day an opportunity for us to make new beginnings, to exploit our infinite potential and to be what we really want to be and do what we really want to do. Of course it is. What is needed is an honest resolve, a promise to yourself that you are determined to keep. is a web site which assists people who want to make and keep promises they made to themselves. The objective of getgoaling is to provide a tool to define and structure your goals using action plans and to provide a mechanism to track your progress regularly. This kind of mechanism reinforces upon you the need to get back to the tasks in case you are not able to make through your action plans.
Your goals can be kept private, shared with a select few or be public keeping your privacy needs in consideration. Sharing what you are doing with your colleagues, friends, mentors builds accountability and eventually helps you accomplish your goals. These people can view your progress and advice and encourage you. For the goals which you have made public, people can view your comments and learn from your experience.
You can tag your goal with relevant keywords so that people who are interested to learn from your experience can find it easily.
You have the option to track your progress either daily or weekly and in case you do not want to track things daily, that is fine too. In case you set a daily or weekly tracking option, you can enter journal entries for each day or week as the case may be. For your daily action plans there is a calendar format report showing you how you are doing on your action plans providing you an opportunity to analyse what is going right and what is not.
As per gurus on goal setting, writing down your goals helps more than when you just keep it in mind, and revisiting it regularly by way of measuring how you are doing is like adding fuel to you aspiration to achieve your goal. So it is always better to follow a method to improve your chances of succeeding on you mission.
So, whether you are a student preparing for your entrance exam, someone who aspires to participate in the marathon run in you city next time or just someone who would like to take good care of himself by going to gym regularly and eating healthy food, all can benefit by using the site. All the best for your future endeavors and a happy new year.

Tribe building tactics….hmm

Seth Godin’s blog begins with the line “4 Weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. More than 100,000 copies in print in just a month”. Certainly the book has something which has struck a cord with a number of people, and that got me interested. And while looking for leads on what the book is all about I stumbled upon something very interesting which I must share with you.  A must read.