The Secret to Setting Better Goals

I used to be terrible at setting goals. My goals were either too vague, seemingly unattainable, and/or just not helping me achieve anything. To make matters worse, I loathed the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Nonprofits have big goals and the S.M.A.R.T. framework was too restrictive. I needed to find a way to set goals that actually helped make and measure progress, so I dove into some light academic research on goal setting and came out with some important and helpful new understandings, which I have refined over time.

Here’s the big secret…

A well defined goal is actually two goals! It’s all about an action and a reaction. The action goal is about something you basically have control over, like making a phone call. The reaction is a goal you hope to achieve but can’t actually will into existence, like having a conversation on the phone with another person.

When setting goals, it’s best to set the reaction first. At PivotGround we call them Impact Goals versus Execution Goals.

The reason why it’s important to differentiate is because when you look at the overall list of goals that you are trying to achieve if all of them are Impact Goals then you probably do not really understand the actions that are required to achieve them. If all are Execution Goals, then you probably don’t really understand the ultimate impact or reaction you are trying to achieve. Regardless of whether you have too many Impact Goals and too few Execution Goals or vice versa, you and your team will be unable to reach that desired end result.

Impact Goal ] Feed 10 homeless (requires people to show up and want the food you give them).
Execution Goal ] Buy enough food to feed 10 homeless people and determine logistics related (e.g. setting up a table).

Try breaking some of your goals down into Impact and Execution Goals and let us know how it goes in the comments.

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