Tony Robbins has a reputation for saying, “Successful people ask more questions and get better answers.” If you’ve had the opportunity to attend one of his seminars, it’s likely that you’ve heard this statement.
Questions reflect our worldview. One of my most important questions as a productivity consultant is “What is the most important step to prioritizing goals?”
While every CEO, manager, and entrepreneur understands the importance of setting goals for their business, not everyone can do it correctly. Many people confuse goals with dreams.
It’s okay to dream. Although it’s great to have a place to go from time to another, there are some things you can do to make your dream come true.
Setting goals is an art. Setting goals is more than just having a vague idea. It is also not the same as creating a list of tasks. Setting goals can increase your chances of success by using a system. I was reminded of something Brian Tracy said: “Failing to plan is planning for failure.”
If you want to be successful, setting goals is not only important but essential. It’s not difficult. It’s actually quite simple.
Types Of Goal Setting
Let’s look at the different approaches to goal setting and answer the question, “What is the most important step for prioritizing goals?”
1. The Ivy Lee Method
Ivy Lee should be a familiar name to CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, and other leaders. In 1918, he entered the office of Charles M. Schwab (the president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation) and shared with him a technique that Schwab said was the most profitable.
Inquiring minds will want to know the contents of that advice. Lee was paid $25,000 (the equivalent to $400,000 in 2016 dollars).
Schwab was asked to spend 15 minutes with each executive. This is what he did.
Write down the six most important tasks you must accomplish for the next day at the end of every workday.
These should be rewritten in order of importance.
You should only complete the first task the next day when you arrive at work. It is important to continue working on it until it is completed.
This process should be repeated every day.
Two-fold is the key to this. By limiting yourself to six goals, you can avoid all other non-essential goals. Instead, you will work on your most important goals one at a time (in order of importance).
2. Jim Rohn Method
Jim Rohn was a master at simplifying things, and his goal-setting technique is an excellent example. It only takes four steps.
- Choose what you want.
- Make a list of them on a piece of paper.
- When you think you will be able to complete each goal, add a date.
- Get to work and cross off things on your to-do list.
It is simple in itself. It’s all about deciding what you want.
3. The WOOP Technique
The acronym WOOP stands to Wish, Outcomes, Obstacles, Plans.
- Wish – Set goals that are challenging, exciting, and realistic
- Visualize your goal and the feeling it would bring.
- Obstacle – Find any obstacles that might prevent you from reaching your goals.
- Plan – Make a detailed plan of action for each obstacle.
It is not possible for everything to go according to plan. However, many people mistakenly assume that things will run smoothly. Chaos ensues when things go wrong. The fourth stage is crucial. You can save yourself hours of stress and headaches by having a plan to overcome any challenges you may face.
4. The SMART Method
As a young entrepreneur, this was the first time I was exposed to goal setting. This idea actually came from George Doran’s 1981 management paper, who was then the Director of Corporate Planning at Washington Water Power Company.
Because it is easy to remember, it is great for beginners. SMART stands to be specific, measurable and attainable. It also means relevant, timely, and bound.
- Specific – You are clear about your goals.
- Measurable – You can track and measure your goals.
- Attainable – Your goal is achievable and realistic.
- Relevant – Your goal inspires you.
- Time-bound – You set a deadline for your goal.
This technique involves setting achievable, specific and manageable goals. You must hand out flyers, for example. You shouldn’t aim to hand out 1000 flyers within two hours. This is because you can’t control whether people will actually take the flyers. If you don’t reach your goal, you will be disappointed.
You can also use the goal statement “I will hand out flyers for 2 hours and smile at people,” which is more appropriate. Your attitude and time spent on the task are completely your responsibility.
5. The HARD Technique
HARD is for heartfelt animated, necessary, and difficult. HARD goals are not like SMART goals which emphasize realistic goals. These goals are designed to push you beyond your comfort zone and challenge you.
For new goal-setting novices, HARD goals might not be the best. These goals may be the right choice if you’ve already achieved results with other methods and are ready for the next step.
- Heartfelt – Every goal should be heartfelt.
- Animated – Imagine yourself as a success story and visualize vivid images of each goal. It is necessary to instill a sense of urgency in your goals.
- Difficulty – Set goals that challenge you and be open to the challenge
6. The Brian Tracy Method
Brain Tracy breaks down goal setting in six steps
On a piece of white paper, write “Goals” on the top of the page. Include today’s date.
At least ten goals are possible for the year.
Every goal must start with the word “I” followed by an action verb.
All goals should be described in the present tense, as if they were already achieved. Example: “I make $100,000 by the end this year.”
These must be positive. Do not write “I will quit eating chocolate.”
Make goal lists for your personal, professional, financial, and health goals.
There is a lot of overlap between these techniques, so it should not surprise. Let’s now ask the question: “What is the most important step to prioritizing goals?”
Simon Sinek, a best-selling author, and speaker is the best person to answer that question. He explained in his famous TED Talk that “Martin Luther King, Jr. gave “I Have a Dream” speech, rather than “I Have a Plan” speech.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a vision of the future that inspired him to take actions that would change a nation. His why was clear to everyone, not only to him but to all.