I truly believe in the practice of writing goals. I believe that setting goals is a critical step to achieving results. To me, there are three words synonymous with achieving desired results: goals, systems and accountability.
Let’s look back at your school days. Where I went to high school, we had seven classes per day. Each class had a start and finish time allowing five minutes between each class to get to the next class. We were given a timetable at the start of the year. The timetable told us our class times, the subject, our teacher, the room number and a map of how to get to the room. I have never been a high school teacher but I imagine each one of our teachers had a plan of what they had to cover over the year. They followed a curriculum detailing what had to be covered.
You may not have thought of it like this before, but the system of school is a good example of well-structured goal setting. The school has goals that each student in each school level must achieve by the end of the year in order to advance to the next level. The school has systems set up to give each student the best chance of achieving this: for example the school curriculum detailing what must be covered in a specific year, a class timetable detailing what specific subjects are to be taught at specific times of the day, qualified teachers competent to deliver the requirements of the school curriculum, learning resources that provide the information the student needs to learn, tests and projects to assess students progress.
The school has set a goal for each year: the school curriculum. The school then creates systems to enable that goal to be achieved: timetables, learning resources, teachers, tests and projects. The result: most students successfully complete the year, as long as they are willing to conform to the system.
Let’s look at a regular 9:00 am to 5:00 pm job. It is a requirement of the job that you start work every day at 9:00 am. You can’t wake in the morning and say, ‘hmmm, I feel like a sleep-in, I’ll go to work when I feel like it.’ You could do that, but it may not be long before you find yourself without a job. The job brings with it specific responsibilities. Each job has a purpose and tasks or responsibilities it is required to achieve. These responsibilities are sometimes called Key Performance Indicators and are often written in the employees Job Description.
The company has set a goal for each job: the Job Description and Key Performance Indicators. The company then creates systems to enable that job to be performed competently: work roster, operational procedures, recruitment of experienced staff, staff training, operational meetings. The result: many employees perform well in their roles.
If the employee didn’t turn up at the required time every day, or if they did not complete the job they were hired to do, there are certain consequences: they may lose their job, lose their weekly income, disharmony within the team may begin to foster.
So why do we successfully get through school? Why do we successfully perform in our roles? I believe one of the major factors is accountability. Who are you accountable to in school? Your parents: They have sent, and paid for you to go to school: you don’t want to disappoint them. Society: There is a societal expectation that you must achieve a high school education. The system: ‘The system’ expects you to finish your education. Yourself: You want to make sure you progress to the next level with your friends, or at higher levels you need a high final score to get into the right university for your selected career.
Who are you accountable to at work: Your employer: They pay you a wage each week. In exchange for money, you put in a good days work. Your family: Your family is dependent on your job security and wage.
So what is it about structured goals (school and work) that work? They have a goal, systems and a method to make people accountable to achieve the desired result. If we applied those same principles to our personal life ……. imagine what we could achieve!