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The Goal Refresh

Remember at the start of this year when you sat down for your annual business planning day and set your goals for the year?

Maybe this was the year that you were going to start writing your book. Or the year that you would (finally) implement that client loyalty program you’ve been thinking about. Or the year that you’d get on track with your marketing and make sure you actually did that consistently.

So now that we’re almost (gulp!) six months into the year, how well is your yearly planning holding up?

For me, even though I wrote my goals down, I can’t actually remember what they are anymore.

For the purposes of this blog post, I went back to the goals I set and took a look.

The first thing I realize is that I set my goals in 90 day increments. I feel that six months is too long, and monthly is too short; but the quarter system seems to be just right.

And then the other thing I realized is that I don’t remember most of my goals because I already reached them.

You may be familiar with this, the Ziegarnik Effect, so named for a Russian psychologist, Bluma Ziegarnik, who noted that we tend to remember tasks which are unfinished better than we remember the ones we’ve completed. She first observed this phenomenon in waiters who could remember the orders from an entire table; but immediately forget every order once they’d passed it on to the chef.

So I didn’t recall my goals because they were no longer unfinished.

But the other thing I noticed is that I didn’t set any new goals after meeting the ones I’d originally defined.

This means I’m coming up to the last half of the year without much of a cohesive plan.

And also that I probably need to set bigger goals.

This is why the idea of a quarterly goal refresh makes a lot of sense.

This kind of quarterly review helps you determine if your goals are still on target, or if they need changing. It helps you see if you overcommitted yourself or if you didn’t give yourself enough to do.

In short, it allows you to reboot your goals to match where you are now.

Since we’re coming up to quarter 3, here’s what I’m doing differently:

#1) More focus. I’m paring down my number of projects and going to give myself some space to dig deeply into just two or three.

#2) Reinvention. I have been doing a lot of the same work for a really, really long time. There are other things I’d like to learn and become skilled in. I’m going to devote some time to those.

#3) Think bigger. It would be fun to have some stretch goals and to think about surpassing my goals, not just reaching them.

#4) Track. I need to set up benchmarks or regular “check-ins” to make sure I’m progressing regularly. I’m pretty good at doing this intuitively, but probably more structure here would be good.

#5) Experience makes it easier to achieve results. I’m going to focus on testing my new ideas as quickly as possible so I can iterate quickly. I also want to try out testing things in new ways- maybe with more direct feedback and interpersonal interaction rather than examining data.

So my goal refresh is designed to help me simplify, clarify, and achieve more.

What will your goal refresh help you do?