By now hopefully you've created some SMART goals and talked to your boss (face-to-face conversation) about them. Even more so, we hope you've gained some advocacy for your own personal and professional development.
So, now what? You have to get after those goals! When you use the SMART format you now have specific timelines that you are marching toward, enabling you to track your progress relative to a deadline. Tracking progress incites accountability for yourself. Whether we like it or not, accountability typically drives success in achieving outcomes. When you have a process for regular review, it creates a repeatable system that enables increased accountability and affords you the opportunity to reflect if you need to switch gears. Our three-step approach to goal tracking includes:
Listing your goals. Seems simple, but half of the battle is making sure these are written down in a trackable format. Consider Excel as a tool to leverage by writing down each goal, deadline to achieve, progress to date, and any notes. The notes becomes increasingly important as time progresses to identify the tactical steps you may need to take to achieve your goals. If you find yourself falling behind on a goal, it gives you an opportunity to review any tactical steps you have taken and decide if you need to alter your approach. Please note, listing your goal in a document is solely for your own accountability. It is not to be used as a substitute for one-on-one conversations about your goals. :)
Review progress regularly. There are two parts here:
Time set aside for yourself to review goals (this should happen at least monthly, if not bi-weekly)
Time set aside quarterly to review progress with your boss. Let's talk about the personal accountability part.
We do recommend more frequent check-in's with yourself to track your progress as it will afford you the time to shift your approach if you n need to. When it comes to sitting down with your boss, put time on the calendar each quarter. This will not only drive your own personal accountability (after all, when you know you have time not he calendar with your boss you become increasingly motivated by your goals), but also shows your commitment to your boss about your future outcomes.
3. Remember to reward and not punish. We have often found that positive reinforcement (even if directed by you) is a great way to maintain motivation. Identify rewards for yourself at each milestone. In addition, focus less on punishing yourself if you find you're falling behind on a goal and use that energy to otherwise redirect your focus to doubling down on that goal!
We know accountability to your own goals can be challenging. It requires a great deal of discipline and self-motivation. One last tip that could be helpful for both personal and professional goals... tell others about them. When we publicly share our goals it can not only create accountability, but also provide an entourage of support and encouragement for your success.
Laura and Jaclyn