Goal reviews are a great way to keep yourself on track to achieve your objectives. Most people are familiar with goal setting, especially around the New Year. We set goals and commit to achieving them. Sadly, just 8% of us actually follow through on our New Year’s resolutions, and regular goal achievement throughout the year is not much better. Goal reviews are quick and easy way stay focused on what you really want.
There is a lot of literature out there about how to appropriately set goals and actually achieve them, so I am not going to focus on that here. What I do want to focus on is the one major thing that is most often ignored when talking about goal setting. The goal review. Goal reviews are useful in life and in business.
Goal Review Basics
The goal review is simple. There are two parts. Review your goal and review the progress you are making toward achieving your goal. Most of us never review the goal itself. We measure progress by tracking some sort of metric. That is useful, but that does not tell us if the actual goal is still serving us and whether or not we are tracking the right metric.
Take weight loss, a common goal for most of us. If you want to lose 20 pounds, then you are likely getting on the scale every morning to check your weight. That is your metric, the thing you measure: your weight. That seems like a reasonable goal and the right metric to track. It is what most of do.
Losing weight is what you need to do and tracking that makes sense. What happens as you progress in your goal, though? Maybe you are not losing weight as fast as you would like. You become discouraged. Perhaps you lose some weight and then plateau. You are feeling better, your clothes fit better, but you are not losing weight as fast as you want. Does that mean you are failing? Perhaps not. You might be losing fat and gaining muscle—muscle weighs more than fat. You are getting healthier and fitter, which is probably something you want, but what you think your ideal weight is might off.
Understand Your Real Goal
In a goal review you are not only reviewing your progress, you are reviewing the goal itself. Start by asking yourself questions like, “What do I really want?” “Do I want to be thin, or do I want to be healthy and fit?” “Do I want to feel good and look good, or is the number on the scale more important to me?” “Is this the right goal for what I really want to achieve?”
Weight loss seems reasonable, but if being more healthy is your real objective, maybe improved blood pressure and lower cholesterol are better goals. If looking good in a new swimsuit is what you want, perhaps a reduced body mass index (BMI) is a better goal. In which case, you might want to be measure one of those metrics instead of, or at least along with, your weight. A goal review would uncover if you have the right goal for what you want to achieve and if you are measuring the right thing.
You also want to ask yourself, “Is this goal still serving my needs?” If you have already made a lot of progress in losing weight, perhaps it is time to change your goal to something else like improving your physique. If that is the case, you might want to chose waist size, arm circumference, or body fat as a metric to measure.
Really thinking about your true objectives and digging into them will tell you if you are on track. Often we blindly continue without thinking about what we are doing and what we really want to get out of it. When we do not succeed, we get disappointed and often quit. A simple goal review will tell you that things have changed or that you want something else.
Validate Your Metric
Once you think about your goal and if it is really still serving your needs and objectives, ask yourself, “Am I measuring the right thing to determine if I am achieving the results I want?” This is important. If you are not measuring the right thing, you really will not know if you are making progress.
In our example, tracking your weight seems like a valid metric if weight loss is the ultimate goal. In fact, it may be the appropriate metric in the beginning of your weight loss journey. The problem is that weight loss might not be your real goal, and “weight” might not be the right metric to track. If you are more concerned about your health, then weighing yourself gives a good approximation of health, but low blood pressure is a far better and more accurate indicator. A goal review uncovers if your goal is no longer “right,” and if the metrics you are using are correct.
Take time to review your actual goal and what you are using as your measure of success. Ensure the goal is still serving your needs and desires. Do not be afraid to adjust it or change it if you need to. Then make sure you have the right metrics and are measuring the right things. You want them to capture the true intent of the goal and the real progress you are making.
Perform goal reviews a minimum of every three months, though monthly is much better. You might even find a quick weekly review helps keep you focused. This allows you to make small tweaks and changes as you go to ensure absolute success in achieving your goal.