The start of a year provides an ideal opportunity to define new goals and set a new course for the coming year, and no year has been more anticipated than the start of 2021. Most of us believe 2021 will provide us a way out of this crushing pandemic and put us on a road to a new, safer, more stable future. Finally, we have the optimism to set goals for this new chapter in our lives!
But will we fall into the pattern of setting and forgetting our more strategic goals as the year progresses?
Within days of starting a new year, the demands of managing once again dominate our attention, and our ability to focus on longer-term, more strategic goals wanes. This “natural” shift back to the status quo means the best intentions for making a significant leap ahead fade, and frustration builds. We beat ourselves up for letting the demands of today distract us from our commitment to a better tomorrow.
I see four factors contributing to the inability to make the progress we desire.
- We are setting too many goals. We start the year with a list of objectives we want to meet, and although you know they are ambitious, we start working and hope that somehow we can stay focused on the right things and progress before other demands zap our attention. We must be more judicious in setting goals.
- We are naïve about what will be required to achieve our goals. I see this happen in my goal setting when I have been thinking about an objective for so long that accomplishing it seems straightforward. Then, when I start to dig into it, I find many smaller steps must be taken first and others to be involved in these steps before making the big leaps I desire. This failure to understand what is required creates frustration and puts pressure on the time I expected to dedicate to this objective causing me to stop working on this objective or make other tradeoffs.
- We let our passion guide our actions rather than pacing and phasing how we act on longer-term goals. Once we take the time to identify our more strategic goals, our excitement can set us up to fail. Sometimes it is a timing issue, where rather than waiting for the ideal time to get started on a particular objective, we jump right in only to meet resistance or confusion. Other times we fail to enroll others in our goal setting, and when we need their assistance, they have different priorities and cannot support our needs.
- We don’t create a plan to achieve our goals. They are written down and possibly put on our dashboard for tracking, but we make little to no progress as weeks turn to months, and then an entire year goes by without accomplishing what we want.
Have you experienced some of these factors impeding your progress? You can break the cycle, but you must change how you set and manage your strategic objectives to ensure the progress you desire on longer-term goals.
To help make 2021 a year of transformation and growth, we are launching our first Strategy Class® online course, Set Strategic Management Objectives: apply strategic thinking to your role and drive strategic performance all year long.