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When it comes time to set goals, be clear on what constitutes ‘just right’ for you. It’s good to be stretched (yoga-style), but not so stretched that everything snaps. A crazy workload will mess with both your work and personal life, so you need to be realistic about what’s achievable.

Stretch Goals are Great (For Gymnasts)

You do need to make sure you set some goals that ar e challenging and stimulating; you shouldn’t be lumbering through the work day like a zoned-out zombie.

But if every goal is so challenging you have no hope of achieving it (for whatever reason - skill level; time constraints; the irrational desire to eat, sleep or see your kids...) well, that’s just silly.

But We're Encouraged to Stretch Goals

By definition, stretch goals are out of reach: difficult (impossible if you’re really unlucky) to achieve even if you work really hard towards them. Missing stretch goal after stretch goal is a fairly major demotivational downer for anyone who doesn’t thrive  on failure, so it’s a good idea to make sure you only have one or two on the go at a time. Enough to keep you on your toes, but not enough to sap your will to live.

A Managerial Aside

The best managers know how far to push people to get the necessary results: what their strengths and weaknesses are; what will engage and challenge them; what they’ll enjoy.

You need to meet with your team frequently to review progress and make sure that most of their goals are still sitting in their ‘just right’ place (if not, adjust accordingly - maybe add more salt or another cushion). A little positive reinforcement when they achieve targets never hurts from a motivational point of view.

Most people will tell you to make goals SMART. At the very least, make sure:

  • You know what you want to do
  • You know how to do it
  • You’re capable of doing it (really - don’t kid yourself ) &
  • You’re enthusiastic about it getting it done

Or you could give VAGUE goals a shot. We’ll clue you in on those another time.

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