Effective Goal Setting is the Backbone of Transformational Leadership

We all have life goals, career goals, and personal goals. Yet, despite how familiar we are with goal setting, we’re not very good at it. Goal setting and getting things done are skills you can develop once you understand the proper way to create goals, how to manage your time, and how to overcome the main goal-killer — procrastination.

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How to Create Effective Goals

Everyone who has read a business article knows goals are important, but it’s easy to make mistakes when setting targets and objectives. Before you create your next set of goals, here are four things to remember.

Small Goals, Big Results

Hitting small wins can add up to massive victories. You can demotivate your team if you set a grand goal and come nowhere close. A better approach is to take challenging goals and break them into short term chunks. If you want to grow your team’s billable hours by 60% this year, set monthly goals of 5%. Each time your team hits your monthly target will boost morale.

Measure Your Success

Goals must be measurable else you’ll have little insight into how you’re performing. Using a SMART goal methodology, you ensure you’re creating an actionable goal that can be measured for performance. 

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific – Be explicit and set defined goals.
  • Measurable – Your goals should be quantifiable so you can track progress and success.
  • Attainable – Your goals must be realistic and you must have the tools and resources to achieve them.
  • Relevant – Ensure your goals align with your or your company’s long-term objectives.
  • Timely – Implement time bound goals throughout and a completion date to keep you on task.

Remember: The SMART method should only be used to check if your goals are well thought out. Setting SMART goals won’t ensure your goals are productive or worth achieving.

Progress Reports

Revisit your performance goals regularly to gauge progress. According to Forbes, business leaders rarely do this as often as they should. Executive Team Coach Bryan Powell recommends blocking off thirty minutes a week to check yourself against your goals. This is especially important for time-based goals.

Celebrate Victory

Celebrate wins! It can be something big like a team outing or it can be as simple as recognizing an individual performance in a meeting. Plan a special lunch or play a preselected victory song throughout the office when a goal is met. How you celebrate is up to you, but recognizing achievement spurs further success.


The 4P’s of Goal Setting


When setting your goals, think positively and aim for what you want to achieve rather than what you want to avoid. A positive focus will help you improve your outlook and encourage you to be more productive. 


Make your goals something you care about. If it’s personal, it becomes something you want to prove to yourself, which is a good motivator.


Whether they are long or short term goals, they must be achievable, . It’s wise to choose a goal that aligns with your ambitions and do what you can to make sure it can be reasonably attained. 


It’s good to have several goals, but you should prioritize the most important ones. Focusing on what’s mission-critical is the way to achieve overall success.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

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Time Management Makes or Breaks Goals

We’ve talked a lot about prioritizing up until now, but how do you understand which goals are most important? How do you know if you’re spreading your efforts too thin with tons of daily tasks? We have some time management tips to help.

The 80/20 rule, or Pareto Principle, states 80% of outcomes result from 20% of input. Blair Williams, author and founder of MemberPress, writes, “It explains how small actions, a small group of people, events or elements are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of a result.

You see this in business, with 20% of a workforce often contributing 80% of the productivity.

Identifying the critical 20% of your business priorities allows you to focus on your productivity sweet spot. First, make a complete list of all the tasks you need to accomplish. Then, complete anything that can be completed in under two minutes. This not only declutters your task list but also frees up mental space and gives you a sense of accomplishment. 

Now, reassess your list. What are the two or three things that if completed when you leave the office at the end of the day will position you for greater productivity tomorrow? Attack those next.

You can also apply Pareto to the rest of your business. Focus more attention on your key customers, top-selling products, or building the skills you’re already good at. Look for the greatest ROI, play to your strengths, and delegate other tasks as needed.

Always have one eye on the goal

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.” — Mark Twain 

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What keeps you from your goals?

Procrastination is your goal’s greatest enemy. We know this, and yet we all do it. We put off difficult decisions and mundane tasks, convincing ourselves there’s a more appropriate time to take care of things further down the road. 

What we’re doing when we procrastinate is conceding control of the situation to a future self who we hope will be ready to do what we couldn’t today. If you find yourself procrastinating, you need to take back control with Attention Management.

Attention Management is today’s hottest productivity tool, and the guru of the focused attention movement is Maura Thomas. She’s Marie Kondo for your mind. 

In her piece in the Harvard Business Review, Thomas wrote, “Attention management is the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus so you can unleash your genius.”

When you practice attention management, you choose which assignments are most important and warrant your full attention. It’s the art of practicing productivity mindfulness to reach a flow state of optimal creative and productivity output.

What is a Flow State?

A flow state is a feeling in which you become completely immersed in the task at hand. Athletes, chess players, ad executives — people in every conceivable field have moments where they are in the zone and crushing it.

Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura brought the concept of flow into our current vernacular describing it as a, “Focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other.” 

How to Achieve Flow:

  1. Care about the task — It doesn’t have to be your favorite thing, but having an intellectual or emotional investment in what you’re doing makes it easier to reach flow. Find a way to gain satisfaction from executing the task well.
  2. Perform a ritual — Prime yourself by doing something that puts you in the proper mindset. It can be as simple as making tea, lacing up your shoes, or doing a breathing exercise.
  3. Select the most important task — Flow state comes from a singular focus on one big objective. Your brainpower needs to be concentrated in one area, so leave the multitasking for another time.
  4. Choose your most productive time — When are you most creative and able to focus? Are you a morning person? Do you do your best work after everyone is asleep? Flow state happens when you’re at your best.
  5. No interruptions — Phone calls, notifications, people entering your office to chat — these are distractions and the nemeses of flow. Switch your electronics to focus or Do not Disturb mode. Put your mobile on silent. Give yourself a peaceful environment conducive to deep concentration.

Setting and achieving goals is easier than it sounds. It is challenging to set a measurable goal that contributes to your overall success. It is even more challenging to deal with the distractions and challenges you will face when pursuing your goals. Lucky for all of us, the goal setting process is something we can improve with a little coaching and focus.

To learn more about how to set effective goals and becoming more productive, click on one of our resources below:


Common Questions

How can I stop procrastinating?2021-09-12T08:44:54+00:00
  • Get organized by understanding what you need to do and how you’ll do it.
  • Remove distractions such as TV and social media.
  • Set specific goals. A vague plan is easier to delay than a specific one.
  • Take breaks as needed. Yes, you have work to do but allow yourself an hourly stretch.
  • Give yourself a deadline for completion.
  • Reward yourself when you complete the task. Have a snack or watch an episode of your favorite show.
What is a flow state?2021-09-12T09:41:37+00:00

A flow state is where a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, It is also known as being in the zone. You can use the attention management techniques outlined above to hone your focus on what needs to be done and immerse yourself in the task.

Will multitasking make me more productive?2021-09-12T09:35:47+00:00

According to the Harvard Business Review, productivity can drop up to 40% when we multitask. This is because we are switch-tasking, not multitasking. Your attention is splintered between the different jobs you’re trying to complete in your workday. Single-tasking and remaining focused is a more effective way of being productive. 

What happens if I don’t reach my goals?2021-09-18T19:57:44+00:00

If you don’t reach a goal, reassess the situation. 

  • Why didn’t you reach the goal? 
  • What were your obstacles? 
  • What can you change? 
  • Can you be more productive? 
  • Was the goal attainable? 

Take all of this into consideration and use the information to inform setting a new goal.

This is one of our executive briefings taken from our series of professional online business short courses from ELL. We have over 150 courses online with over 1,000 hours of e-learning covering a wide range of topics across leadership, management and personal & professional development created by industry experts and learning professionals.

Goal Setting Courses

Goal Setting is one of the most basic and essential skills someone can develop. We touch on goal characteristics, time management, and what to do when setbacks occur. Our Goal Setting course will cover strategies to help you deal with distractions and overcome procrastination. These skills will translate into increased satisfaction in your professional and personal life. You will learn the Goal Setting characteristics of successful people and in turn will become happier and more productive individuals.

By the end of this short business course on goal setting strategies you will:

  • Manage blockers such as procrastination
  • Know how to set and deliver specific goals
  • Manage your time and tasks effectively – getting things done
  • Setting SMART goals
  • Creating to do lists

In each of our business courses, you get access to around six hours of e-learning that you can watch, listen and read. There are usually 100 questions and at the end of the course you will receive a certificate of completion that you can use against any personal or professional development requirements. As well as the course, you also receive a FREE e-book that you can read on your Kindle or other e-reader. You also get a FREE audiobook of the course so you can listen to the whole course uninterrupted on your device.

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