We’re approaching the third month of the year, about the time when most New Year’s resolutions start to look a lot less shiny and promising. We’ve all been there, where we set these amazing, lofty goals to accomplish in the next year.
Starting in the early 2000s, I started setting my number of goals or resolutions based off the year. For example, I would set 14 goals for 2014. But last year, I stopped using this method, because it simply wasn’t working. I would set these lofty goals without any true ways of measuring progress.
Last Fall, I experienced a number of opportunities for professional development. I helped plan logic models at my nonprofit. I took a Fundamentals of Project Management course. I co-presented a session on using KPIs to set analytic goals.
All three of these things use different methods. Yet, not so surprising, all three have similar objectives: to meet the end goals.
After learning about these methodologies, I realized that I can use them beyond my 9-to-5 job. I often find that, when I set personal goals, I don't have clear direction. I rarely set milestones or benchmarks – which really is a recipe for disaster.
So I write this blog post with the intent of sharing my professional knowledge. My hope is that, using these principles, when we set goals, we don’t do so blindly.
Creating Long-Term Change with Logic Models
Logic models categorize goals based on length of time: short-term outcomes (the act of learning), medium-term outcomes (actionable goals), and long-term outcomes (creating conditions, or long-term change).
Using this method, you work backwards by identifying your long-term outcomes and setting milestones along the way. You weigh in external factors, and you take into account your assumptions and resources. This method is ideal for goals that extend over a longer duration of time. For example, logic models may be applicable for nonprofits in the midst of a strategic planning process or any big organizational change.
So how can you use a logic model in your personal goal-setting?
Example: establishing a healthier lifestyle. Short- or medium-term goals might include learning how to cook your own meals and establishing an exercise schedule. Activities might include working out, going grocery shopping, attending classes, and going to bed earlier. Resources might include a gym membership, access to a grocery store, proper cooking supplies, and so on. All of these components will factor into the success of accomplishing the end goal.
Laddering Up with KPIs
Similar to logic models, using Kristine Remer’s ladder up formula, you identify your goal and then you establish Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs, otherwise known as benchmarks) and tactics.
Your KPIs incorporate SMART business objectives:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Your tactics are the activities you complete in order to reach your benchmarks. In the workplace, KPIs may be used to help set programmatic goals that have SMART objectives, such as gaining a certain number of clients by a specific time.
Goals that incorporate numerical benchmarks make great candidates for this method. Example: Your goal is to read ten new books in 2014. A KPI may be to read five books by June, and tactics might be to join a book club, read 30 minutes a day, or keep a book in your purse. Tactics are the activities that you test, try out, and adapt, based on what works best for you.
Prepping with Project Management
While project management is a method used to complete a goal that has a specific timeline, budget, and scope, it is also the best method to use when a project involves several people.
For example, a nonprofit could use project management methodologies when it is planning a big fundraising gala or preparing for a new software launch.
Similar to a fundraising event, you might use this method when you are planning your own personal event, such as a family reunion. The event will require demands on time, budgets, and resources -- for you and all your relatives. Additionally, you will have to please and meet everyone’s expectations, especially Grandma Penny’s. You may need to assign roles and duties. Applying the knowledge you learn in project management could prove to be very fruitful, in these types of personal goals and achievements.
While all three of these methodologies tend to be used in the professional world, who says their application needs to end there? How can you adapt what you learn in your professional career to accomplish goals in your personal life?
By incorporating measurements of success, you will have new milestones to help motivate you and keep you on track. Sometimes having a system in place, with clear outcomes and measurements, is all you need to turn those unattainable goals into reality.
I admit that I haven’t tried this out for myself yet. But it sounds like a great starting point. In fact, let me go dust off a lofty goal and put one of these models into practice.