So it is 2014, and in a business context it is a great time to lay down some concrete goals for the year ahead… but there is a big difference between stating ‘feel good’ intentions and setting realistically achievable goals. Like most things, there is a smart way to do it. In this article we will provide you a template to set Smart Goals using Mind Mapping software.
Resolutions vs SMART Goals:
Talk to any psychologist, trainer or life coach and they’ll likely tell you that most goals (often called ‘resolutions’) fail because they are not really goals… they are just statements of intent. Same thing right? Well, no actually. Resolutions often fail because they lack specificity and are simply not attainable. It is all about detail. Stating intentions like “I will improve my business bottom line” will make you feel good, but come July 1st 2014 we are willing to bet nothing much has come of them. Why? Because without detail you’ve got nothing to work with.
Enter ‘SMART’ goals using Mind Mapping software. The SMART goal system is a well known system for planning success, and it becomes doubly powerful when you map out SMART goals using a Mind Mapping Software application.
You may know SMART goals already, but lets run over them again:
Specific: You must define exactly what the intended outcome is, without this you are simply throwing around a non-specific intention. For example: ‘I will improve my sales revenue’ sounds good, but does not really pin down the activity required to achieve the goal. Instead try: ‘I will commit to following up 25 new leads per week’ every week until July. While this is still not perfect, this gives you something tangible to focus on. Words such as Who, What and Where are worth considering at this point.
Measurable: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? How can you measure your progress? If your goal is already specific you have partly answered that question, however you usually need more than this… milestones if you like. As a rule of thumb, if you only take a few seconds to fully define your goal, you are usually creating a non-specific resolution vs a workable SMART goal. In the example above (sales revenue), you would first establish your schedule for contacting each sales lead, then for every contact record your actual activity. As an example you might measure time spent, response and closed deals. Failure to measure progress is high on the list of reasons why people fail. Knowing that you are succeeding, even in small steps at a time, is critical to continued motivation.
Attainable: Is the goal you set attainable? For example, do you have the time to follow up the leads each week? You might wish to become the next Apple Computers overnight, but is this ‘Attainable’ if you are only working on your own as a consultant? Try to fix the goal to something that is clearly realistic vs what you can just dream up.
Relevant: If the goal is not related to you, your family or your business… why are you doing it? The truth is many people spend their time competing in areas simply for the sake of ‘keeping up’, without actually analysing why they are competing. There is a parallel between this concept and how some people drive their cars. You’ll notice some people drive fast, duck and weave simply because they have the urge to beat everyone else on the road. They are not necessarily in a hurry to get somewhere, but they are simply competing for the sake of it. But guess what? Their tyres need replacing more often, they need to re-fuel more often, they attract resentment from other drivers, they are fined more often and usually end up in more accidents. So in a business context, what kind of driver will you be in 2014?
You should ask questions such as:
– How does this improve my life or the lives of my family or friends?
– How does this relate to other goals/objectives in both business and personal life?
Timely: Some times this item is called ‘Time-bound’ which is more related to Measurement. The real question here is: ‘Is this the best time to be doing this? Can I complete this goal in a timely way (e.g. by a required deadline)?’
SMART goals can be done using paper and pen, but they become really powerful when constructed using a Mind Mapping application. Mind Mapping applications allow you to visuallise the information and make changes on the fly (including recording progress). To help you to achieve your goals in 2014, we’ve prepared a basic template for use with Mindjet MindManager or MindMapper (whichever application you prefer).
Mindjet MindManager Goal Planner: Download
MindMapper Goal Planner: Download
Spend some time in the next few days, while things are still quiet after New Year, to plan your SMART goals.
As a final word: it is better just to have just a couple of goals you achieve than a whole host of goals which are only partly achieved. Remember that you can always set more at mid-year! Achievement is the factor that creates and maintains internal motivation for both short and long term success.
Have a great 2014!