Friday, September 29, 2017

Cut Your Goals In Half

If you have some goals at work that your boss gave you, there's a chance the "cut your goal in half" idea won't work. It's unrealistic to think that you have the power to cut all your annual goals in half. I agree. But when it comes to corporate goals you don't have control over, the research suggesting that reduced goals perform better over the long run gives you ammunition to set the right goal in the first place. 
I once worked at a company that took twenty years to make a $5 million annual revenue on the back of one great product. The CEO decided one year that the company's new goal was to make another $5 million in five years on a brand-new, untested product. Everyone smiled when she announced this aggressive new initiative in the boardroom, but the break room tends to tell the truth about a company. 
Everyone knew it was impossible - not just out of reach, but irresponsible in its overreach. It would demand resources, distract us from our real goals, and ultimately fizzle out with a whimper. That's exactly what happened. After a frustrating year, the goal was tweaked, changed, and eventually abandoned. 
Few things demoralize a workforce like a leader who doesn't pick the right-sized goal. If you think it's discouraging to break a promise to yourself, imagine multiplying that discouragement by a hundred or even a thousand employees. 
How do you apply the 50 percent rule to work goals? By making sure they're they right size from the beginning. How do you do that though? That's what the rest of the book is about, but chapter 7 in particular will be important for work goals. Pulling data from the past will inform the planning of goals in the future. The bottom line in corporate settings is that even if you can't cut a goal in half, you can temper dangerous optimism and planning fallacy in your company. (Finish: Give Yourself The Gift of Done, pp. 26-27)
Every year, I make 'resolutions', New Year's goals. Usually, most them do not get accomplished. As this book suggests, we are often overly ambitious when we set goals for the new year. We set an ambitious goal and then become discouraged at the first hint that we are not on pace.

It's not a bad idea to halve the goal, or double the amount of time you allot for it to get accomplished. For example, if you currently can squat 300lb and you set your goal as 400lb, consider resetting your goal as 350. Not only will your chances of success improve significantly, but you're also more likely to springboard to the goal you had in the first place.

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