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Goals

Reviewing and Adjusting Goals

15 Dec 2021

Author: Lote Steina

We all love the moment when we set new goals. We have a shining vision of success ahead of us and there is nothing holding us back. With the New Year’s eve coming up, many of us will indulge in this activity with great enthusiasm and a pair of very thick pink glasses.

Reality check – only 12% of people actually follow their New Year’s resolutions through to completion. This figure differs research from research, but the fact of the matter is that even in the most optimistic scenario 80% of us fail to achieve our goals. Why is that?

There are a bunch of things that may get in your way, but probably the most important one is forgetting that reaching a goal requires hard and persistent work that has to be managed and adjusted over time. While the goal achievement process may start with writing down a goal, it is the shortest and probably the easiest step. Unfortunately, for too many it is the only step. That is why goals and resolutions fail.

We’ve covered the goal-setting subject from various angles in this blog. This time I’ll outline how to go about reviewing progress towards goal achievement and make adjustments or improvements to guarantee sustainable and quality end result.

Before jumping into the subject, we have to take a quick step back and take a brief look at how to properly define goals to be able to successfully analyze their implementation.

Be SMART About Setting Your Goals

One can never stress enough the importance of defining goals properly. As with all things in life, the foundations have a profound and long-lasting impact on both the process and the end result. Setting SMART goals is especially relevant for those interested in regularly following up on their goal-achievement progress.

Just a reminder – SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. A good goal will fit all of these adjectives. Miss one and the foundations become shaky.

The reason why I’m returning to the basics is that it is very difficult to carry out a quality goal achievement review if the underlying goal is not SMART. As I said, if the foundation is poor, the consecutive steps will be flawed or incomplete.

For example, it is difficult to set forth a comprehensive goal achievement plan if the goal lacks specificity, measurability, or a time frame. Likewise, an unachievable and irrelevant goal will not do wonders to your motivation. 

Luckily all is not lost. Even if you’ve started on a goal which doesn’t fit the methodology, you can still get back on the right track by making tweaks to your original goal.

While everything about SMART is important, pay particular attention to S-M-T! For your goal review you will need specific milestones and end results within certain time frames whose achievement can be checked and verified.

For this blog post let’s use a particular example adhering to the SMART methodology:

I will reach B2 level proficiency in German language by the end of 2022.

Let’s assume that this goal was set in December 2020 and that there were several milestones along the way – reach A2 level by the end of 2021 and hit that B2 target by the end of 2022.

Reviewing and Adjusting a Goal

How to go about the review process? I’d advise doing goal review and adjustment several times a year (at least once a quarter). In addition, for a long-term goal the year mark is usually a good point at which to look back, see the bigger picture (progress, hurdles, conclusions from the minor reviews etc.), and do a comprehensive audit.

Here are the five key questions to ask when assessing goal implementation and considering changes:

1. Is the goal still relevant?

Goals are defined and set based on a particular situation or circumstances. Since these conditions can change over time, a goal’s relevance may diminish or disappear altogether.

Therefore “whether the goal is still relevant or not?” should be the first question to ask when the goal review comes up. You should see if circumstances have changed since the goal was set and how that affects the goal and its desired outcome? Will you still be able to achieve it? Is this goal still something you need and/or want?

These questions are essential as without reasserting the relevance of a certain goal, it may no longer inspire the same motivation as it once did. If the new circumstances have drained the goal of the past drive and energy, some reconsideration may be in order. Now this doesn’t mean wholesale abandonment of a goal. It is rather a reevaluation which takes into account the new circumstances, possible new goals, and the limited resources you have.

Take our example – say you unexpectedly change careers and move from Europe to Thailand. Mastering German could still be fun and somewhat useful, but it may be overshadowed by other priorities.

2. Are you on track?

If your goal is SMART, you should be able to quickly evaluate whether you are on track to accomplish the goal in time and at the expected quality. Ideally there would be a goal achievement plan with certain milestones, deadlines, and key performance indicators (KPIs) with the expected values at the end of a given period.

Using the language goal, the key milestone at the end of 2021 would be successfully passing the A2 exam. Assuming that quality is also a factor there should be certain KPIs that give a better picture of your goal achievement and how sustainable the end result will be. In our example KPIs could include:

  • the average grade;
  • the time spent studying each week;
  • the number of podcast episodes in German you listen to;
  • the share of classes attended.

3. What challenges did you encounter?

Achieving a goal is not easy. The path towards it can be time-consuming, tiring, and full of smaller and greater hurdles. This is what achieving a goal is all about – overcoming difficulties to become the better version of yourself.

With that in mind, it is still necessary to pay attention to which tasks or processes tied to the goal required the greatest amount of effort in the review period. With that information you can take steps and make the right investments (time, money etc.) into getting better at things that cause the most difficulty.

For example, if the tests in your language class show that you are excelling in everything apart from the listening parts, you should increase the amount of time you spend listening to transcribed podcasts or watching videos/movies with subtitles. This should then be reflected in your daily, weekly, and monthly task lists. Ideally, by the end of the next review period you should see an improvement in the average grade KPI as well as your overall comprehension.

4. Do I have the resources to continue?

Most of us juggle a handful of responsibilities, tasks, and necessities – work, family, relationships, household chores, hobbies, sleep etc. Just think about how much time you spend on these things alone. Unless your goal falls under or overlaps with one of the aforementioned categories (as might be with personal development goals), the average weekly time devoted to goal achievement, particularly if it is related to self-improvement, may actually fall to below a couple of hours.

In some cases, time may not be the only resource required. Money also matters. While there are some goals that are financially unquantifiable and, indeed, invaluable (family, friends), most goals will cost you either directly or indirectly through opportunity costs (i.e. spending the allotted time for goals more profitably).

Energy is another factor. Humans cannot go on forever at maximum capacity. Burnout as well as physical and emotional collapse are real things that all too often happen when we push ourselves too hard. Depletion of energy stock can be particularly dangerous as once you are down, it takes a while to get back on track. This will negatively affect both your time and financial resources.

Some goals will pay off in the short or long term either through more job opportunities, healthier living, more efficient time use etc. However, you should always be pragmatic and calculating in your assessment – maybe it’s better to put your resources to use somewhere else?

5. Do I need to make adjustments?

The four previous questions all led to this summary, reflection, and action stage. Sure, there may be a handful of other questions which might give some additional level of detail to your review, but if your goal was defined properly, had a rough implementation plan, and you were able to follow and evaluate your progress along the way, there is not much more that is needed to make a sound and informed judgement about the path forward.

While it is hard to give specific advice as all goals differ, there are four major decisions you can take regarding your goal:

  • Ditch the goal. If the goal has lost its relevance and/or requires a disproportionate amount of resources without offering any tangible long-term returns.
  • Scale the goal down (more modest end result and KPI values, and/or postponed deadline). If the goal retains its full or at least partial relevance, requires a disproportionate amount of resources at its current form, but has prospects for long term returns.
  • Continue on the same path (no changes). If the goal retains its full or most of its relevance, doesn’t require a disproportionate amount of resources at its current form, and will have clear long term returns.
  • Scale the goal up (more ambitious end result, KPI values, and/or deadline). If the goal retains its full relevance, can be implemented with ease or without use of extra resources, and will have clear long term returns.

Depending on the major choice you make regarding your goal, changes will be necessary in your goal implementation plan, list of tasks, calendar, maybe even your budget to align your adjusted goal with the remaining facets of your daily life.

Using the language goal example, this could entail extra spending, more time spots on your calendar for studying or classes, as well as new milestone and end-result deadlines, if you decide to ramp up the goal. Conversely, if you scale the goal down – with an aim of reaching only B1 proficiency in German by the end of 2022 – you may have extra time, money, and energy to redistribute to other tasks or even new goals.

One final point – don’t be afraid to abandon a goal. We tend to reproach ourselves for failing to meet a goal. That shouldn’t be the case! You don’t have to do something you neither want nor need to prove a point to yourself or others. Your time is valuable and ditching a goal may be far better than letting it drag you down.

All of this may seem time-consuming and exhausting. It doesn’t have to be. With the BePrime app all the key things you need to implement or adjust a goal are at your fingertips. No need to navigate through several apps to align all the aspects to your planning and productivity. Goals, tasks, finances, calendar, notes – it’s all there!

Be at the top of your game with BePrime!

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