Establishing Clear Goals for Yourself and Regularly Assessing Your Progress Improves Performance in Less Time

In the journey towards personal or professional success, the importance of setting clear goals cannot be overstated. Whether embarking on a new project, pursuing a career milestone, or striving for self-improvement, establishing clear objectives provides a roadmap for progress and achievement.

However, the mere act of setting goals is just the beginning. Regular assessment of one’s progress is equally crucial.

The Importance of Evaluating our Goals

By consistently evaluating where we stand in relation to our goals, we gain invaluable insights into our performance. It also helps us identify areas for improvement, and make timely adjustments to optimize our efforts.

This process not only enhances efficiency but also propels us towards success in a shorter span of time. In essence, the synergy between setting clear goals and assessing progress fosters a cycle of continuous improvement. It ultimately leads to heightened performance and accelerated accomplishment of our long-term success.

Building trust in the coaching process starts with approaching your class or seminar attendees as equals, creating a foundation where everyone feels valued from the beginning.

At the beginning of classes that I’m teaching, I like to set the stage by letting everyone know how profoundly grateful I am to be in the presence of like-minded individuals who are constantly learning, being and doing more, and that I never leave a class without having learned something new from my students.

Creating a system to achieve your goals

This reminds me of my favorite revelation from a class: my introduction to the Monk Manual, a daily planning system that helps you achieve your goals.

I was delivering a virtual leadership development training: ‘Ownership of Your Job,’ and a conversation with a participant unfolded on the best practices for time management. The participant went on to say how the Monk Manual helped with goal-setting on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis in his work. For one, it led to a transformational increase in productivity. It also helped him exceed expectations, leading to more opportunities for growth. And, most surprising of all, it even transcended his career by helping him improve personal relationships with his wife.

With this newly found goal-setting process, they were able to map out their future and create an action plan for achieving long-term goals.

Never take the position that things just happen to you; rather, they happen because of something you did or did not do.

Grant Cardone

Whether you’re mapping out your career or personal goals, regular assessment of your progress toward the bigger picture is the most powerful tool to foster achievable goals in the most sufficient time. The best way to track your progress is to set actionable goals. This ensures you are in the right direction, which will inevitably save you time in the long run. Nobody wants to have to start all the way over. Set smaller goals with regular check-ins, days, weeks, and months, with specific landmark goals, to produce better results. 

Define Specific and Measurable Goals: Clearly outline what you want to achieve, making sure each goal is quantifiable and has a deadline.

Clarity comes in the form of setting expectations for specific goals.

You must clearly articulate what you aim to accomplish. Ensure that your goal is well-defined and easily understood, not only by the people on the other side of the deadline, but especially with yourself. Ask yourself: Are these smart goals? Meaning, can you quantify how these specific metrics tie into the bigger picture?

The importance of the goal-setting process relies heavily on the small steps that help track progress.

Only you can possibly know how to establish metrics or indicators to measure your progress objectively. This could include numerical targets, percentages, or other quantifiable criteria. This ultimately makes it clear to you where you are in your timeline. In addition, ensure that your goals are relevant to your overall objectives and contribute meaningfully to your personal or professional growth.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into areas that seem tantalizing at the time and perhaps even relevant to your larger goal. Remember, though, that you’re trying to get to the finish line in a straight line, and on the fastest route. The country roads make for a beautiful drive, but is relevant to your desired outcome?

As an Expressive Driver who always has ten tabs open in my brain, a ton of energy to burn, and the idea that I can do it all, even I struggle with prioritizing my time-bound goals. This is why I always have a long list. I must follow a system, otherwise I’ll get stuck in a hamster wheel of several projects at once that take far longer to accomplish than they actually should. 

Set realistic and relevant goals that are within your reach, given your resources, capabilities, and constraints.

As a leader who wears many different hats, I often have to stop and reassess. I need a balanced approach for specific objectives, given that my workload on any given week is unpredictable.

I am an “all-in” employee, which means whatever is best for the company is where I take off sprinting to. Sometimes that means an 80+ hour work weeks that include working on the weekend, canceled personal plans, driving through ice storms, catching a red-eye to cover for a colleague stuck in an airport across the country due to weather, and/or jumping in another project to meet its more important deadline for the greater good of the company.

Each and every time I set a goal, I whole-heartedly expect to achieve it and intend on completing on time.

However, my dedicated role doesn’t allow for a set 8-5 M-F schedule that I control, and knowing this makes it easier to achieve the types of goals on my plate by shifting when needed and making sure the most important items are at the top. So, if there is something that isn’t crucial to the implementation of your overall goal, it can wait. For example, this book I’m writing right now is one I’m super excited about and cannot wait to share with the world very soon. Anything that is derailing my efforts has to go to the back of the line.

In addition to prioritizing your goals, be sure to assign a specific timeframe or deadline for completion.

This creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused and motivated for achieving your goal is akin to setting the stage for success.

By establishing a clear endpoint, you provide yourself with a sense of urgency and focus that propels you forward. A defined deadline serves as a beacon guiding your actions and decisions. This timeframe acts as a motivator, prompting you to prioritize tasks, allocate resources efficiently, and maintain momentum towards your goal. Moreover, a deadline instills accountability, holding you accountable to yourself and others for delivering results within the specified timeframe.

Thus, by anchoring your aspirations to a concrete deadline, you harness the power of time as a catalyst for achievement. This ensures that your goals are not just aspirations but actionable objectives with a clear path to realization.

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

Fitzhugh Dodson

Regularly Review and Adjust Goals: Schedule frequent checkpoints to assess your progress and make any necessary adjustments to stay on track.

Setting aside regular time to review your progress toward each goal is a fundamental practice for success.

These intervals serve as dedicated checkpoints along your journey. They allow you to assess how far you’ve come and recalibrate your course as needed. By establishing a routine of regular progress reviews, you create a structured framework for accountability and reflection. Weekly or monthly intervals provide consistent opportunities to evaluate your efforts, identify any obstacles or challenges encountered, and celebrate achievements along the way.

Evaluating your current status relative to the objectives you’ve set is a pivotal step in the journey toward achieving your goals. This process involves a thorough examination of your progress, focusing on both areas of success and areas needing improvement.

Once you’ve identified areas needing improvement, devise strategies to address them. This might involve refining your approach, seeking additional resources or support, or adjusting your timeline or expectations. Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement, viewing setbacks as opportunities to learn and adapt.

By conducting a thorough evaluation of your current status relative to your objectives, you gain valuable insights that inform your next steps. This process empowers you to leverage your strengths, mitigate weaknesses, and navigate obstacles with resilience and determination. Ultimately, it propels you closer to achieving your goals.

Seek feedback from relevant stakeholders or mentors

This is a valuable strategy for gaining different perspectives on your progress and performance.

These individuals can offer insights, observations, and constructive criticism that you may not have considered on your own. Their diverse viewpoints can enrich your understanding of your strengths and areas for improvement, guiding your path toward goal achievement.

When seeking feedback, it’s essential to approach the process with an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn. Be receptive to both positive feedback and constructive criticism, using it as a catalyst for personal and professional development. Additionally, consider gathering feedback regularly throughout your journey to ensure you’re continuously adapting and improving.

Being open to making adjustments based on new information, changing circumstances, or shifting priorities is a valuable skill. I’ts essential for adapting and staying on track toward achieving your goals.

Flexibility and adaptability are key attributes that allow you to navigate the unpredictable nature of life and work.

When new information emerges or circumstances change, it’s important to reassess your goals and strategies with an open mind. This might involve revising timelines, reallocating resources, or even pivoting to a completely new approach. By remaining agile and responsive to changes, you can proactively address challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Moreover, shifting priorities is a natural part of the goal-setting process, especially in dynamic environments.

Reprioritize your goals to focus on what matters most

As your circumstances evolve and new challenges arise, you may need to reprioritize your goals. This might mean temporarily setting aside certain objectives to address more pressing needs. It could also mean seizing unexpected opportunities that align with your overarching vision.

Ultimately, being open to making adjustments demonstrates your commitment to success and your willingness to adapt.

Embrace change as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Leveraging it can propel yourself forward on your journey to achievement. By remaining flexible and responsive, you’ll position yourself for success even in the face of uncertainty. And most of all, remember: a growth mindset will always win the day! 

Realign your goals to ensure your efforts remain focused and relevant

Modifying your goals when necessary ensures that your efforts remain focused and relevant. Life is dynamic, and circumstances can change rapidly. This makes adaptation essential to stay on track toward your desired outcomes.

When considering modifications to your goals, start by evaluating how your priorities, aspirations, or external factors have shifted. Reflect on whether your current goals still align with your overarching vision and values. Perhaps adjustments are needed to better reflect your evolving circumstances and ambitions.

If you find that your goals no longer resonate with your current priorities or aspirations, don’t hesitate to make changes. This might involve revising timelines, adjusting metrics, or even completely redefining your objectives.

Additionally, consider how external factors such as changes in the market, technology, or personal circumstances may impact your goals. Be proactive in assessing these factors and making adjustments as needed to ensure that your goals remain achievable and relevant.

Ultimately, modifying your goals in response to evolving priorities, aspirations, or external factors demonstrates your adaptability and commitment to success. By staying flexible and responsive, you can ensure that your efforts remain focused and aligned with your overarching vision.

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Prioritize Tasks Effectively: Focus on high-impact tasks that align with your goals, avoiding distractions that derail your progress.

Ensuring that each task you undertake directly contributes to the achievement of your established goals is essential for maintaining focus and maximizing productivity. To achieve this, it’s crucial to regularly evaluate how each task aligns with your overarching objectives.

Before embarking on a task, take a moment to assess its relevance to your goals. Ask yourself:

  1. How does this task contribute to my overall objectives?
  2. What specific goal does this task help me advance?
  3. Will completing this task bring me closer to achieving my desired outcomes?
  4. By evaluating tasks in this way, you can prioritize those that have the greatest impact on your goals and sideline those that are less critical. This ensures that your time and energy are directed towards activities that move you closer to success.

Additionally, consider the potential opportunity cost of each task. If a task doesn’t significantly contribute to your goals, it may be worth reconsidering whether it’s worth pursuing or if there are alternative approaches that better align with your objectives.

By consistently aligning your tasks with your overarching goals and objectives, you can focus your efforts on activities that drive meaningful progress and ultimately increase your chances of success.

Learn to distinguish between tasks that are urgent and those that are important

Distinguishing between tasks that are urgent and those that are important is an integral aspect of effective time management and goal achievement. Urgent tasks demand immediate attention due to deadlines or external pressures, while important tasks contribute directly to your long-term goals and objectives.

To prioritize tasks effectively, it’s essential to focus on their significance in moving you closer to your goals rather than merely reacting to urgent demands. Here’s how you can differentiate between urgent and important tasks:

1. Urgent Tasks:

These are time-sensitive activities that require immediate action to prevent negative consequences or meet deadlines. They often involve responding to emergencies, handling crises, or addressing pressing issues. While urgent tasks demand attention, they may not necessarily contribute directly to your long-term goals.

2. Important Tasks:

These are activities that align directly with your overarching objectives and contribute significantly to your progress and success. Important tasks may not always have immediate deadlines, but they are essential for achieving your desired outcomes and moving you closer to your goals. When prioritizing tasks, focus on addressing important tasks first, even if they are not urgent. By allocating time and resources to activities that have the greatest impact on your goals, you ensure that your efforts are aligned with your long-term vision and objectives. 

Considering the potential return on investment (ROI) of each task is a strategic approach to prioritizing your efforts and maximizing productivity.

By focusing on tasks that offer the highest impact or value relative to the time and effort invested, you can optimize your resources and accelerate progress towards your goals. By prioritizing tasks based on ROI, you can ensure that your efforts are directed towards activities that yield the greatest value and contribute most effectively to your success and that of your organization. This strategic approach allows you to optimize your productivity, make efficient use of your resources, and achieve your goals more effectively.

This is a powerful strategy for enhancing focus, productivity, and goal achievement. By minimizing interruptions and avoiding multitasking, you can maintain a state of flow and maximize your effectiveness in completing tasks.

Block out specific time slots in your schedule dedicated to working on tasks related to your goals. Treat these time blocks as non-negotiable appointments with yourself, and prioritize them as you would any other important commitment. Identify and eliminate potential sources of interruptions during your dedicated work time. This may involve turning off notifications, setting boundaries with colleagues or family members, or finding a quiet workspace where you can focus without distractions.

Focus on single-tasking rather than multitasking during your dedicated work time. Research has shown that multitasking can reduce productivity and increase mental fatigue. By concentrating on one task at a time, you can maintain focus and complete tasks more efficiently. Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, and allocate specific time blocks to work on each component. This approach helps prevent overwhelm and allows you to make steady progress towards your goals.

Try the Pomodoro Technique for better time management

Experiment with time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique or time blocking to structure your work sessions effectively:

  1. Identify a task or tasks that you need to complete.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Work on a task with no distractions.
  4. When the alarm sounds, take a 5-minute break.
  5. Repeat the process 3 more times.
  6. Take a longer 30-minute break and start again.

These methods can help you stay focused, maintain productivity, and avoid burnout.

By allocating dedicated time blocks for working on tasks related to your goals and minimizing interruptions and multitasking, you can create an environment conducive to focus, productivity, and goal achievement. This disciplined approach allows you to make consistent progress towards your objectives and maximize your chances of success.

6 Easy Steps to Identify and Eliminate Distractions

Identifying and eliminating distractions that divert your attention away from high-impact tasks is crucial for maintaining focus and productivity. Implementing strategies such as setting boundaries, managing notifications, and creating a conducive work environment can help you minimize distractions and optimize your ability to concentrate on your goals.

Six easy steps to ensure total distraction management are as follows: 

1. Set Boundaries:

Establish clear boundaries with yourself and others to protect your focus time. Communicate your need for uninterrupted work periods and set expectations around when you’ll be available for non-urgent matters.

2. Manage Notifications:

Disable or limit notifications on your devices during dedicated work sessions to prevent interruptions. Consider using “Do Not Disturb” mode or selectively silencing notifications for non-essential apps and emails.

3. Create a Conducive Work Environment:

Designate a dedicated workspace that is free from distractions and conducive to productivity. Minimize clutter, optimize lighting and ergonomics, and personalize your environment to promote focus and concentration.

4. Practice Mindfulness:

Cultivate mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to help you stay present and focused on the task at hand. These practices can help you manage stress, reduce anxiety, and improve your ability to concentrate. When delivering our Fearless Presentatioms Public Speaking seminar, I introduce the well-known 4-4-4 breathing technique for steadying your breath and overall lessening nervousness. It’s a powerful instrument that can be used at any time and without notice to those around you. 

5. Use Time Management Tools:

Utilize time management tools and techniques to structure your workday effectively and prioritize tasks. This may include using task management apps, setting timers or alarms, and creating to-do lists to keep yourself organized and on track, as well as going on Do Not Distorn until your task is completed or you are at the end of your allotted time away. 

6. Take Breaks Strategically:

Incorporate regular breaks into your workday to prevent burnout and maintain productivity. Schedule short breaks between focused work sessions to rest and recharge, allowing yourself to return to tasks with renewed energy and focus. 

By identifying and eliminating distractions and implementing strategies to manage your environment effectively, you can optimize your ability to focus on high-impact tasks and make meaningful progress towards your goals. These proactive measures will help you stay on track and maximize your productivity, ultimately leading to greater success and accomplishment.

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Foster Accountability: Share your goals with a trusted friend, mentor, or colleague to hold yourself accountable and receive constructive feedback.

Communicate your goals openly and transparently with someone you trust, such as a friend, mentor, or colleague. This creates a sense of commitment and accountability to follow through on your objectives.

Providing regular updates on your progress towards your goals to your accountability partner is a great first step towards the ultimate goal and can even be done on a daily basis is they are willing. This keeps you accountable for your actions and encourages ongoing support and feedback which brings me to an important topic: Be open to receiving feedback from your accountability partner.

Brace yourself for anything with an open mind that wants to get better. Constructive criticism can offer valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement or adjustment in your approach and should not be discouraging. If you want to get better, you must be coachable! 

The power of bracing yourself for change in the face of adversity

My executive coach is the best of the best. Her name is Michelle Jack, and I will forever be in her debt for teaching me the power of bracing myself for change in the face of adversity.

Through our invaluable coaching sessions, she opened my eyes to the power of humility and being able to take criticism as a form of empowerment that supports my personal dynamism. My intrinsic motivator is To Win. And in a perfect world I would win every single time… Back to reality—with enough whip lash to prove it—means that I have to plant my feet and know how to react to a loss, setback, or change of the roadmap. Sometimes our map looks great to us, and we all love our rose-colored glasses!

Sharing your intentions with your coach, trusted friend, mentor or colleague will keep you grounded, on track with regular feedback and your focus will stay on realistic goals with clear direction. And embrace feedback! If there is someone who cares enough about you to take you aside, explain how you can improve, grow and flourish, never let that person leave your trusted circle of inspiration. People who go out of their way to take you under their wing are few and far between and should be cherished and appreciated.

Building a mutually beneficial accountability relationship fosters motivation and success for both parties.

“Accountability breeds response-ability.”

Stephen R. Covey

Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. This will motivate you to continue working towards your goals.

If you have ever studied the 5 Love Languages written by Gary Chapman, then you understand the power of Words of Affirmation, especially if that is your #1. As human beings, we need to be recognized, raised up and celebrated, and it works both ways.

It is extremely important to me as a leader to make sure that every person on our team feels acknowledged for their efforts. Kudos are crucial building blocks for the human psyche and even if your leader hasn’t gotten there yet, make sure to take the time to acknowledge and recognize your achievements, no matter how small.

Reflect on the progress you’ve made—and reward yourself accordingly

Reflect on the progress you’ve made and the efforts you’ve invested. Treat yourself to a meaningful reward or celebration when you reach significant milestones. This could be a special meal, a relaxing activity, or something else that brings you joy.

You can also try sharing your accomplishments with others who have supported you along the way, such as friends, family, or colleagues. Their encouragement and validation can amplify your sense of achievement.

Make sure to reflect on the journey you’ve taken to reach each milestone and appreciate the growth and learning experiences it has provided. Celebrating milestones allows you to pause and savor your progress. Use celebrations as opportunities to reignite your motivation and commitment to continue pursuing your goals. Recognizing your achievements can inspire you to push forward with renewed energy and determination.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Oprah Winfrey

Establishing clear goals for yourself and regularly assessing your progress improves performance in less time. But only if you follow the tried and true process of defining measurable goals, scheduling checkpoints to assess your progress, effectively prioritizing tasks, fostering accountability and celebrating milestones.

If you have a vision, are humble enough to know you can’t do it alone, have the willpower to make it happen and the grit to see it all the way through no matter the setbacks, you are already winning and I guarantee you the rewards are bountiful.

In the pursuit of your goals, steadfast determination coupled with strategic planning ensures not just achievement, but the realization of your fullest potential.

Amy Maybury
Amy Wilson Maybury has spent over ten years in business management before becoming a professional facilitator with The Leaders Institute ®. Her natural ability to relate to people on a deeper level, extreme attention to detail, and high level of energy make her an excellent candidate to deliver powerful performances with lasting memories. Amy’s clients rave about her relentless energy and how she can make any meeting fun!
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