Creating goals for yourself allows you to find a different experience in life. Rather than letting your days unfold before you and reacting to whatever fire flares up, you need to design your experience of leadership and life. Creating a plan to go with your goals will make your life more enjoyable.
The Components of Effective Goals
As you design your goals for the coming year, include the following three components.
PART # 1 — The Outcome You Desire
First is the part of the goals that most people set. It is the outer part of the goal because they are outside of you. It often happens in the outside world that you can see or touch when you reach your goal. You can point to them and say I did that!
- Finish a course
- Expand a program
- Complete your policy manual
PART # 2 — The Internal Shift You Need to Make
The next part of the goal is the internal shift. To succeed at reaching your goal, you often need a change inside you. It is connected to your thoughts and emotions and often includes a degree of inner discipline.
Examples of internal shifts
- Feel confident saying no
- Cultivating an attitude of gratitude
- Having the courage to address tough conversations
PART # 3 — What habit do you need to cultivate?
The final part of a good plan to achieve your goals is clarifying the habits you’ll need to cultivate to achieve your goals. The difference between a habit and a goal is:
- The goal is the final “thing” that you can see.
- You must do the habit regularly to help you achieve that goal.
The habit allows you to achieve the goal.
Examples of habits
- Leaving the laptop at work
- Spending 10 minutes each morning reviewing the day before getting into email
- Taking 15 minutes toward the end of the day to engage in a self-reflection exercise
When you include all three components, you develop a well-rounded plan to work on and regularly review to ensure you are on track. Let’s work through some examples to help make sense of how you can apply this in your nonprofit role.
Task-related goals examples:
Outcome — Complete a review of the policy manual.
Inner shift — A policy manual is not a thing. It’s how we do our work.
Habit to cultivate — Have staff rotate a review of policies at each staff meeting, sharing examples of how they applied policy, reviewed the policy or identified the need for revisions,
Outcome — Create a new hire experience we follow each time we hire a new employee.
Inner shift — Shifting thoughts to: Our work is never done. We have to create systems to help us with cycles.
Habit to cultivate — Review the new employee routine every six months to see what’s working and what we can improve on.
Individual Leadership Goals Examples:
Outcome — Leave the office at 5 pm daily
Internal Shift — Shifting my thoughts to “It’s ok for me to leave at 5 pm,” which will create an increased feeling of work-life balance
Habits to cultivate
- Block the last 30 minutes of my day to tidy up.
- Ensure that I don’t schedule any meetings past 4:30 pm
Outcome — Develop An Attitude of Gratitude
If you are cultivating gratitude, you may think the goal is to write in a gratitude journal daily. That will help, but there are other things to do. For example, many people write down a list of things they are grateful for and wonder why it doesn’t change their life.
The Inner Shift — To truly cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you need to slow the process down and connect emotionally with the thing you are recording. Gratitude is a feeling, not a doing. You FEEL grateful. You don’t DO grateful. Therefore to achieve this goal, you need to understand what it feels like in your body when you are grateful and then “do” more to cultivate that feeling. That’s an internal shift.
Habit to cultivate — Taking a deep breath after you’ve written your grateful statement, closing your eyes, reliving the situation you are thankful for, and feeling it in your body again.
For my members of The Training Library, you’ll find a lesson and worksheet on gratitude here.
Outcome — Get better at setting boundaires
Learning to say no more often may be about setting boundaries with those around you regarding what you will and will not do. Often just setting limits creates more stress in a person’s life. A true shift in setting boundaries is understanding why you have the urge to say yes in the first place. That’s an internal shift.
The Inner Shift — Boundary setting requires self-discipline. You need to resist that urge to please everyone around you. To feel good about the boundaries you set requires you to change the inner dialogue that insists you “must” respond or:
- They won’t like me
- I won’t get the promotion
- They will think I don’t care
The habit to cultivate — To be more comfortable setting boundaries, you may need to create a habit of self-reflection. Each week, take time first to write down the boundary you want to make. Then consider what thoughts come up when you set that limit and what beliefs and values play a role. That will help you begin to make the inner shift.
To create your highly successful goals this year:
You need to do more than write a goal statement down. As you set your goals for the year, think about the type of leader you want to be and the impact you want to have on your team, organization, and industry. Also, consider how you want to integrate work and life. Then create goals that will help you be that type of leader with the experience of leadership and life you desire.
Successful goal setting requires a plan
You will find success when you look at the goals you want to achieve as more than a statement. Take time to develop the outcome, the internal shift and the habits.
- First, look at what you want to happen outside.
- Next, consider the internal shifts you must make.
- Finally, consider the habits you’ll need to install to assist you in doing that.
You’ll find much more triumph this year when you create goals in this manner.