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Creating "Rules of Engagement" for Goal Achievement

2 Tips + 1 Fun Fact for creating a successful goal.

Once you have identified your goal, it’s time to identify the Rules of Engagement.

The rules will help you define success. What exactly does success look like when you achieve your goal? What actions do you need to take to be successful? How will you win? Here are three tips to help you define your success.

Tip #1 - Put a number on it.

There is a corny connection here, but when speaking of ‘Rules of Engagement’ and this tip of ‘Put a number on It,’ I immediately think of Beyonce’s song: Put a Ring on It.

Sing it with me!

“If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”

Translate this song into goal setting….

"If you liked (your goal) then you shoulda put a number on it."

The majority of goals that we set are loosy goosy. Meaning, we aren’t specific enough. For example, I have a goal of reading a stack of books I collected over the recent years, I might say: “My goal this year is to read more books.”

Ok, well how many? If I read one (1) does that equal success? For some people, that may indeed be a success. Great! Then add that number to your goal. In my case, success equals reading 25 books this year.

By finding a way to track your goal, you increase your understanding of what success is and, therefore, your likelihood of achieving that goal.

Tip: Try to avoid a percentage. Numbers are concrete, and don’t lie. Using numbers is a quick way to tell if you are making progress. Percentages typically require a calculation and are generally harder to tell if you are winning.

For example, If I decide to read 5 books in 3 months, I could track the number of books I’ve read by saying 1 or 1.5 out of 5 rather than 20% or 30% out of 100%. When you use a percentage, it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal, which in this case is 5 concrete books. Turning a number into a percentage becomes a science project and confuses the mind. Keep to straightforward and use numbers.

Sometimes, you need to get creative with using numbers. An alternative way to track could be by number of pages read. Let’s say the 5 books equal 500 pages. Keep track of the number of pages you have read on your way to 500, for example, 112 out of 500.

Challenge yourself to put a number on your goal.

Tip #2 - Cut your goal in half or give yourself twice the amount of time.

When we set our goals and put a metric to it, human nature is to go big. The goal is usually created in a vacuum, meaning, we don’t consider or create space for any bumps in the road or conflicts. A good rule of thumb is to cut your goal in half or give yourself twice the amount of time to accomplish it.

We may not realize our goal was too lofty until about two-weeks in. Author Jon Acuff writes in his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, that "our brains are hardwired to be confident about our abilities and chances of success." That's why we create goals to run a marathon when we haven't finished a 5K yet! It's great to be ambitious! But, when we realize we may have been too ambitious, avoid quitting and adjust our goal instead. Adjustments are better than quitting. Don’t give up!

For example, I originally set my book reading goal to 25 books in 3 months. Becaaaause I was excited about all of them and was really eager to read them!! But…life gets busy, and after two weeks, I realized I was wayyyy too ambitious, and I needed to extend my time. I looked at what took place over these last two weeks and realized the more realistic timeframe is 6 months. I returned to my calendar and remembered a few business and personal trips that I have planned, which will also provide challenges in achieving my goal. So, if a more realistic timeframe is 6 months, then I really should aim for a year to read 25 books. [I have to remind myself of my own advice at times!].

If I achieve the goal before the end of the year, then awesome! I will feel super successful and may even throw in an extra bonus book! I would rather have that feeling than of a quitter. Hard truth!

The important note here is to try to avoid quitting! Adjust your goals instead. It’s ok to adjust the goal based on new learnings. The important thing is to keep going.

"Our brains are hardwired to be confident about our abilities and chances of success.” Jon Acuff, author of Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done

Fun Fact: National Quitters Day is two weeks after New Year’s Resolutions are made.

I'm not sure this is exactly a 'fun' fact, but it is indeed a fact.

In my experience coaching over 70,000 leaders on setting and achieving goals, it takes 3 weeks to establish a new routine to help you achieve your goals. Push through the first 3 weeks and it will start to feel easier. It will not become a habit yet, and quite frankly, it may never become a habit. That’s ok. Focus on building successful routines. Building routines will help you build eventually sticky habits.

You've Got This!

Go back to your goal and make a few adjustments based on your recent achievements, or misses. Put a number to it and give yourself the realistic grace of extending the deadline. And, keep going! You've got this!

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