So today I am moved to make a comparison. Behold the personal stretch goal. Everyone should have one, lest they be relegated to a lifetime of perfect contentedness. I’m talking about that goal that we desperately want to achieve, the one that eludes us time and time again. That goal that requires us to make a wholesale change in our HABITS and, thusly, is just really HARD.
Quit smoking, lose weight, lower the blood pressure, learn French…all laudable goals which we would feel SO fantastic about achieving. We’d smell better, feel better, look better and sound better! Our life would be complete. Simply hide the cigs, eat smaller portions, exercise daily, put the darn “Learn French While you Drive” DVD in the car. Easy Peasy, right?
Then why is this poor motivated soul still hacking, smelly, fat, and unilingual? (Not me of course – I don’t smoke and my blood pressure is really low) What stops us from putting those new habits in place, avoiding the old traps, and staying the course?
In transformational organizations – and by transformational, I mean organizations undergoing major change to literally transform themselves into something new – these same kinds of goals exist. Goals that will change and extend the organization’s life. Except that instead of one poor motivated soul battling up hill to change his habit, it is now hundreds. And of course that assumes the hundreds of poor souls mentioned here actually know there’s a goal, that we aren’t there yet, and that it’s actually quite the heck different from where we are. Oh, and of course we’ll assume that they actually care. Oh, and that they want to achieve that goal too.
When it comes to individual personal change here are ten steps that have been used successfully to help individuals achieve their goals:
1. Define your goal in specific, measurable terms.
2. List all the reasons you want to achieve that goal – what will be different? Why will it be good?
3. Visually depict your goal somewhere you can see it regularly (a picture of when you were healthy, a postcard of the Eiffel Tower, a collage of items that represent how you will feel).
4. List all the obstacles you think may disrupt your progress toward your goal and answer for each one – in writing – how you will minimize or eliminate each one.
5. List the people – friends, colleagues, family – who can help keep you motivated. Tell them what you plan to achieve and explain the kind of help you’ll need from them.
6. Pick a realistic date by which you will achieve your goal.
7. Pick a date to start toward your goal and identify milestones you’ll achieve along the way.
8. Decide how you’ll reward yourself for achieving each milestone including your actual goal.
9. Take one day at a time, beginning each day with a commitment to achieving your goal.
10. Remember that on the path to the goal, you may take a wrong turn. But just as in life, if we take a wrong exit we don’t just keep going. We turn around and get back on the highway. (Unless of course the scenery is really cool or you run into an old friend, but I’m talking in general…)
With these 10 steps, many many people have seen success. Still takes hard work of course but when you fully prepare for the journey, you are much more likely to make it.
Back to our transformational organization: We have an important – even critical – goal. We have hundreds of employees, each of whom is going to impact – one way or another – our ability to achieve our goal. Question: Have we done anything like the 10 step preparation above to position our employees to be as successful as possible in achieving the organization’s and their own professional goals? Perhaps at the organizational level. But what about the department level? How about for each individual? How much more likely is your organization to achieve its transformational goal if every single employee went through an exercise like the one above? To determine and commit to how they personally can and will impact the change effort? Rock on.