25 JAN 2019

Dane Holmes Shares His Take on Effective Goal-Setting

Dane Holmes

Dane Holmes, Global Head of Human Capital Management of Goldman Sachs, shares his perspective on how to accomplish meaningful things, personally and professionally.

By Dane Holmes

When trying to accomplish something meaningful – professionally or personally – start by investing real time and energy on establishing goals. Goals – with a plan – not only put you on the path towards success, they also provide clarity (to you and to others), serving as your North Star (especially when things get shaky) and keep you motivated along the way.

Research shows that goals also increase job satisfaction and people who have a high level of goal clarity are four times more likely to score in the top performance quartile of their organization. Yet, while the business case for goal-setting is strong, many of us still don’t do it in a deliberate and consistent way. In one study, 96% of business leaders acknowledged they lacked the time for strategic thinking.  Life takes over, so we “put our head down”, “grind through it” and try to “figure things out” as they come. However, that’s a recipe for working hard and risking having little to show for it.

Here are five tips to consider when it’s time to adopt a “goal-setting mindset”:

Start with the why.  Ask yourself “what’s the ultimate purpose of this goal and the benefits that will come from achieving it?” Goals for the sake of goals won’t take you far. Make sure you understand the impact of what you’re trying to do and why it matters to you, your team and your organization. Research tells us we’re more likely to persist with a goal that has personal meaning. Define the “why?” and whenever your motivation wanes, be sure to come back to that answer.

Be aspirational. Not all goals are created equal, but one way to end up disappointed is to set too-easy-to-achieve goal. Consider what if I took it to the next level or even the level after that.  When you start thinking bigger and more strategically than you otherwise would have, that’s when great things can happen.

Don’t make a to-do list. Sometimes when we start setting goals, we end up with a laundry list of things to do. Be certain that you differentiate between what your ambition is (i.e., the goal) and the activities it’ll take to get there (i.e., your plan). Prioritizing the longer term versus the day-to-day will help you focus on what truly matters

Value the journey.  Any ambitious goal is going to hit some major obstacles. Expect it. By embracing the journey rather than just fixating on the end point, you stand to learn and achieve much more. The people you meet, the skills you acquire, the resilience you cultivate all have the power to positively impact you, so let it happen and soak it in!    

Recruit help. No one can achieve a meaningful goal alone. Lean on your network, leverage the people around you, and ask for help when you need it. Share your goals with others to help you stay on course when things get hard and celebrate with you when things are going well.

When we don’t stop and think about what we want to achieve, we’re just letting things happen to us. Define where you’re going and how you’re getting there. With determination, resilience and time, I’m certain you will.

Here’s to realizing your goals!


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