With challenges that the economy faces with lock-downs in the age of the COVID-19 it can be difficult for anyone to keep momentum. While there is uncertainty throughout the Kenyan economy and the world, many have a hard time getting motivated to do much, and there is at times, a feeling of a loss of control. Canadian Professor Danckert refers to a lack of urgency when there is a loss of control, which is particularly difficult in times of lock-downs and uncertainty. However, even with a stalled economy it now more important than ever to keep improving your business and self using a good goal setting strategy. One sure way of moving towards improving your professional development is by articulating your goals.
Goal Setting Strategy
Something that is taught in top MBA programs is using a systematic goal setting strategy. This concept is taught for a good reason – goal setting works. Study after study has proven that the most effective business people use goal setting strategy to become high achievers and to get a lot more done. Consider using the following goal setting techniques for yourself and your team.
Even with a stalled economy it now more important than ever to keep improving your business and self.
Focus on the ‘bigger picture’ – In order to create clear goals it is essential to step back to view the ‘bigger picture’ of your business and career. This is far-reaching way that helps to decide how you should spend your resources and time. If you are not sure what they are, then this is the time to decide what your long-term objectives are going to be. Where are you expecting to be in a year, a few years, or even a decade from now? Envisioning where you plan to be will help you to clarify what you need to do. But, keep in mind that things change and therefore your goals will need to be reviewed and updated regularly.
Articulate your longer term objectives – start by writing down your goals. These should then be divided into one-year short-term, two-to-five year medium-term and longer-term goals that are then regularly reviewed and modified as necessary.
An effective way of getting your goals organized in a coherent and well-focused format is through the use of ‘SMART’ goals. This acronym is for the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-constrained. Through embracing the SMART concept it helps you to concentrate on what you want to do, what you are able to actually do, and where you will go in the future. Once you have decided on where you want to be in the long term, look at the areas you can work on. Review from the perspective of your long-term objective, then decide where to focus your energy.
Define your needs – Note that by defining the need, one’s mind and resources tend to swing into action, and you can then properly decide move forward in a focused and confident fashion. One example might be, ‘improve education credentials’ for your resume. In this instance you must write down exactly what the required credentials are, what time-constrained deadline would be realistically achievable that is, and how relevant the credentials would be towards achieving what you want.
MTO Approach In Business
In the current environment, though, while working on achieving goals distractions and stress can be obstacles. A way that helps to keep you on track is what Canadian consultant Raymond Aaron calls “the MTO approach”. This is an acronym for “Minimum”, “Target” and “Outrageous”. In other words setting down the tasks and objectives in a systematic way that lets you always achieve at least part of your goal, while reaching for a lot more than you might have been able to achieve. This goal setting strategy is effective in moving your business forward (after all, a body in motion tends to stay in motion) and can help kick start both an individual and an entire team that is working together. The MTO can be for a short, or longer period of time (such as one morning, a day, a week, or longer).
The M-‘Minimum’ is the amount of work that you are bound to get done with a minimal amount of effort. This ensures that you have at least achieved something because, psychologically it is important not to get discouraged and to gain and maintain momentum.
The argument is that if we make a goal too large, it can become too much to achieve (at least in our own estimation) and we tend to give up. This then defeats the purpose of goal setting for those who tend to give up after finding a task to be too daunting. So, by setting a goal that we are bound to achieve, we can keep our enthusiasm levels up and we are always are able to achieve something that goes towards the overall goal-and helps us feel in control.
The T-Target, is what you might already have had in mind, and what you want to achieve during that time frame and it should be a “stretch”, which is slightly beyond what you know you can accomplish.
The O-Outrageous is when you really reach for something that is very difficult to achieve, way more than the target. Additionally, if it happens to get achieved, it is a major accomplishment for that particular time frame. Aaron defines this as “what you know you cannot achieve”.
One of the best uses for the MTO goal setting strategy is to get oneself moving on (and maintaining) a goal-oriented, daily routine, or short time-frame. Using this goal setting strategy also works well in regular, slightly longer, focused periods (such as the coming week). It can be also powerfully incorporated into the short, medium and long-term SMART goals.
Be sure to make notes to document what you are doing as it is very important for your goals to be articulated, either on a screen, or on a hand-written page. By reviewing goals that have been clearly laid out and updated every day helps to instil a sense of discipline in us that we tend to adhere to and ensure that any downtime is effective, and allows us to regain control. This can be very important for achieving everything you set out to do (and more), regardless of the external world problems, leaving you and your business in a better position to thrive.
Note: parts of this were adopted from articles I wrote for professional development in Japan and Hawaii.
Richard Miller is a professor at Osaka Jogakuin University in Osaka Japan and a visiting lecturer at Management University of Africa, Nairobi. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org