But there is one very essential element of goal setting that isn't regularly discussed - the relationship between the number of goals and your productivity.
In regards to the ideal quantity of goals, a few questions arise. How many goals should we tackle at once? Do we ultimately accomplish more or less as the number of goals increase?
At first glance, it may be reasonable to assume that working on multiple goals would lead to increased productivity. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
To accomplish as many goals as possible, it's best to work through them one at a time.
The trouble is, this runs contrary to our very nature. As humans, we don't want to accomplish one thing at a time. We want everything at once.
And in our highly connected world, we have become a generation of people who view our ability to multitask as a benefit. But there's a problem with multitasking. Whether about personal improvement or massive business projects, the attention we give to tasks is often very divided. And with each subsequent goal, our attention is divided even more.
So what is the key to goal setting? How can we be most effective in our professional goals while also keeping up with our personal responsibilities? As bosses, how do we set goals for our organization to move projects forward as efficiently as possible? When the responsibilities required of us our large, and the goals we set even greater, how can tackle the absolute most?
Here's how to set goals and maximize productivity:
1. Find Your Primary Goal - Whether for work or personal development, you must focus the majority of your attention on completing your primary goal. That is the absolute fastest way to achieve the goal. Your primary goal should supersede all others and receive the most attention.
2. Pick BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) - If you're going to spend the majority of your time on a primary goal, it might as well be a BHAG. Maybe your goal is to write the next great American novel, or to build a colony or Mars, or providing clean drinking water to the world. These are all great goals, but they are going to take time. But, BHAGS are more likely to stick. Why? Because they are worth ignoring smaller goals for.
3. Limit Your Goals - Whenever possible, limit the total number of goals. Having too many goals is the absolute killer to productivity. While you can't drop all your personal and family responsibilities, be aware of the number of goals you take on at once.
4. Complete Goals With Systems - Your ability to accomplish a goal is only as good as the system you've chosen to achieve it. The right system will reduce your focus on the long-term achievement, allow you to focus on process.
5. Give Up The Need To See Immediate Results - When accomplishing anything but the most minor of goals, results can take time to materialize. Trust the system, track the progress, and relieve the pressure by allowing time for the results to emerge. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Goal setting is an important part of life, and setting goals should be inspiring, fun, and meaningful. But achieving goals usually takes years of sustained work.
"If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time." - Steve Jobs