Dan Beverly

Goal Setting vs. Goal Achieving

With everything that has been written about goals, it’s hardly surprising we’ve all become such experts at goal setting: adept at crafting perfectly-formed, criteria-laden (SMART, PURE, CLEAR) goal statements. But can we claim similar expertise and success when it comes to goal achieving? I’m not sure we can – especially in the workplace.

So what can be done in the goal-setting process to help ensure we go on to achieve our goals?

Coaching and the coaching environment helps leaders and managers not only set but consistently achieve their professional and career goals. And we do that by augmenting the goal-setting process in a way that draws a powerful distinction between different, but complementary, goal types.

Because setting an End Goal is just the beginning. And to unleash a person’s goal-achieving potential, the End Goal needs to be coupled with a complementary set that includes a Performance Goal, a Process Goal and a Learning Goal.

By drawing these distinctions, that perfectly-formed End Goal becomes instantly more achievable. We become experts at Goal Achieving.

. . .

1. The End Goal

When we talk about setting a “goal”, we routinely mean an End Goal. That is: the final objective; the thing we want. Winning gold, getting that promotion, becoming #1 are all examples of an end goal. And for me, end goals are still the place to start – and in as much detail as possible.

What you might notice about your end goals, particularly those you set at work and in business, is that they are seldom within your complete control. Even though you’ve adhered to the rule of stating your goal in the positive (“I want to succeed” rather than “I don’t want to fail”), you still most-often have a goal dependent on some outside agent. And we cannot know or control what our customers, clients, competitors and colleagues will do.

The answer to this is not to change the end goal, but to augment it with a set of distinct but complementary goal types.

2. The Performance Goal

A Performance Goal identifies the performance level you believe will provide you with the best chance of achieving your end goal. And distinct from an end goal, a performance goal will always be within your control. (If it’s not, modify it so it is. You define your performance goal.)

So if my end goal is to be appointed Sales Director, my performance goal might be to increase my sales by 20%.

Performance goals have the powerful effect of focusing the mind on the building blocks of our goal. They save us from the enormity and overwhelm of the end goal and necessarily marshal our efforts into the crucial ingredients that get us to our goal.

Performance goals are also that much easier to commit to and take 100% responsibility for, because they are defined by us to be within our control. And performance goals generally provide an excellent means of measuring progress too: and what gets measured improves.

I’ve heard it neatly described thus:

  • The end goal provides the inspiration.
  • The performance goal defines the specification.

So, as far as is possible: support your end goal with a performance goal.

3. The Work Goal

As we start to see the usefulness (to coaches and their clients!) of drawing a distinction between an end goal and a performance goal, we’ll not be surprised to learn we’re going to take the distinction a level further again.

Introducing: the Work Goal. That is: the process and/or system necessary to move us from current reality to our required performance levels and desired end goal. So if my performance goal is to increase sales by 20%, my work goal might be to conduct an extra 5 client engagement meetings per month.

To achieve our goals, we have to be willing to invest ourselves fully in the process. Or to put it another way: expect to get out what we put in. So ask yourself:

  • How much work am I willing to invest in this process?
  • What sacrifices am I prepared to make?

This self-awareness ensures we work diligently.

4. The Learning Goal

The final piece of the puzzle is the Learning Goal: what we need to learn, where we need to improve and what we’d like to come away knowing – even in those cases when we don’t achieve our end goal.

Learning is a key element to any performance improvement and I always challenge my clients to define a learning goal – for two reasons.

Firstly, giving focus to the learning quietens the ego and helps us make new challenges of ourselves. We revel in the journey. And when we find enjoyment in the learning process, performance necessarily improves.

Secondly, a learning goal promotes and maintains helpful thinking, regardless of outcome. When we look for the learning, all outcomes (including “failure”) become feedback – and that feedback loop is crucial to performance improvement. We stop urging ourselves to perform better simply by willing it to be so; and we start simply noticing our performance, feeding into the feedback loop which our natural learning instinct then uses to make adjustments.

So alongside your process goal, set a learning goal.

  • The Process Goal ensures we work diligently.
  • The Learning Goal ensures we work intelligently.
. . .

Setting the Foundation for Goal Achievement

Coaching helps clients achieve extraordinary results: and it all starts with an End Goal, properly encapsulated with a full set of complementary goals:

  1. Set an End Goal: the inspiration.
    Ask: What do I want?
  2. Set a Performance Goal: the specification.
    Ask: What personal performance is required?
  3. Set a Process Goal: work diligently.
    Ask: How much work am I willing to invest?
  4. Set a Learning Goal: work intelligently.
    Ask: What new learning do I need?

Raise the bar on your goals by drawing these distinctions and your goal-driven performance will skyrocket.

If you want bigger, better, faster results on your goals, email me at dan@danbeverly.com.

Dan Beverly

Dan Beverly is a leadership and performance coach helping high-calibre, high-performing professional women embrace the pivotal career moments.

To work with Dan, go online to book your complimentary “Session Zero” – and start capitalising on your pivotal career moment, today.