SETTING GOALS EFFECTIVELY
How you set goals strongly affects their effectiveness.
The following general guidelines apply to setting effective goals:
- Positive Statement: express your goals positively: ‘Enhance riparian habitat’ is a much better goal than 'don't screw up the river.’
- Be Precise: if you set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that achievement can be measured, then you know the exact goal to be achieved, and can take complete satisfaction from having completely achieved it. Example: ‘Complete capping and reseeding of Dutch Mine Waste Dump #3 by October 2006.’
- Set Priorities: where you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
- Always write goals down to avoid confusion and communicate them consistently.
- Keep Operational Goals Small: Keep the goals you are working towards in the short term small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. Short-term goals should be derived from larger goals.
SET SPECIFIC GOALS
Set specific measurable goals. If your group achieves all conditions of a measurable goal, then you can be confident and comfortable in its achievement. If you consistently fail to meet a measurable goal, then it can be adjusted or you can analyze the reasons for failure and take appropriate action to refine the approach.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
Goals may be set unrealistically high for the following reasons:
- External influences
Other organizations, people or outside interests can influence goal setting and result in unrealistic goals based on what they want. Maintain goals as a product of those directly involved with your restoration project.
- Insufficient information
If you do not have a clear, realistic understanding of what you are trying to achieve and of the skills and knowledge necessary, it is difficult to set effective and realistic goals.
- Always expecting the best
Many groups base their goals on an overly optimistic perspective of how much they can accomplish. This ignores the inevitable hang-ups that can occur for good reasons, and ignores the uncontrollable factors that can cause delays, or worse. Try to set goals that challenge realistically and make your planning more consistent.
SETTING GOALS TOO LOW
Alternatively goals can be set too low because of:
- Fear of failure
If your group is hesitant at the prospect of failure you will not take the risks needed for optimum performance. As you apply goal setting and see goals achieved, confidence should increase and help you to take bigger risks. Failure is a positive thing: it shows you areas where improvement is needed.
- Taking it too easy
It is easy to take the reasons for not setting goals unrealistically high as an excuse to set them too low. If your group isn’t prepared to stretch itself and work hard, then you are unlikely to achieve what you are capable of.
SETTING GOALS AT THE RIGHT LEVEL
Setting goals at the correct level is a skill that is acquired through experience.
You should set goals so that they are slightly out of your immediate grasp, but not so far that there is no hope of achieving them. No one will put serious effort into achieving a goal that they believe is unrealistic.
Other factors such as workload, budgetary constraints and other commitments should be taken into account when setting goals.
Review the goals you have set and measure them against the points above. Adjust them to meet the recommendations and then review them. You should now be able to see the importance of setting goals effectively.
THINKING A GOAL THROUGH
When your group is thinking about how to achieve goals, asking the following questions can help you to focus on the tactics that lead to their achievement:
- What skills are needed to achieve this?
- What information and knowledge do we need?
- What help, assistance, or collaboration do we need?
- What other resources do we need? What can challenge progress?
- Are we making any assumptions?
- Is there a better way of doing things?