By F. Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA, TRA
GOAL SETTING FOR A PRODUCTIVE AND MEANINGFUL 2020
Achieve successful outcomes by setting SMART goals
To hit the ground running in 2020, setting goals is essential. Goals are the roadmap for your life. They tell you where you are going and give you a path to get there. They may even warn you of any danger that lies ahead.
Goals are the fuel that powers you to your destination by increasing motivation. In other words, goals matter.
Think of a goal as a dream with a timeline. Goals and objectives don’t get done unless you set a time frame for achieving them.
I was introduced to the art of goal setting in the early 1980s while maturing as an account manager at Johnson & Higgins (now Marsh USA) in Philadelphia. Now, as I head into 2020, the art of goal setting continues to give me direction to:
- Decide what is important in my life
- Determine what I want to achieve
- Separate what is important from what is irrelevant
- Be motivated
- Facilitate my ability to benchmark progress
- Gain self-confidence as my goals become reality
Many top athletes, entertainers, and highly successful people attribute their success to goal setting. A substantial body of research shows that goals are directly connected to success and peak performance. For example, would you exercise more if you set a goal for yourself? Would your book of business grow more if you established a target goal?
The answer to both of these questions is a resounding, yes! Setting goals can increase your motivation and effort, resulting in increased achievement.
So how do you set goals that stick throughout the year? Make a plan using SMART goals.
Setting SMART goals
Every successful insurance and risk management professional has clearly set and articulated goals to attain specific objectives. Yet far too many risk consultants lack a focused goal. They typically reply that their fuzzy resolution for the coming year is to “get more business.”
A more focused approach would be to set clear and achievable SMART goals. SMART goals will give you direction and show you whether you are getting closer to your desired objective.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It is a simple tool that leads to successful outcomes.
S—Specific: Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Identify any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal and make a plan to get around the obstacles. For instance, if you want to grow new business in 2020, try setting this goal: “I plan to elevate my new business hit ratio to 90% in 2020 and each month obtain two new clients with revenue averaging $10,000.” The moment you focus on a specific goal, it becomes a magnet that pulls you toward achieving it.
M—Measurable: A goal without a measurable outcome is like a football game without a scoreboard. Numbers are essential in business, and this step lets you evaluate whether or not you achieved your goal. Put concrete numbers in your goals so you can ascertain if you are on track. For example, your goal might be to improve client support by earning a 90% satisfied/very satisfied client satisfaction rate. Or you might want to grow your network by having at least one lunch each month with an external professional. Consider posting a goals whiteboard in your office as a daily reminder to keep yourself focused on the targeted results you want to achieve.
A—Achievable: Is your goal realistic? Do you have the ability to achieve it? Do you have the skills or tools you need? If not, change your goal to something you can accomplish. This is where you dream big and aim for the stars while keeping one foot firmly based in reality. For example, you may want to conduct a stewardship review for all accounts with revenue above a predetermined level. Or you may want to expand your knowledge by earning a professional certification in 2020.
R—Realistic: Does your goal fit with your overall plan for yourself? Is this something you should spend your time doing? A realistic goal might be to invest in and strengthen your knowledge about a more advanced risk management process. This is where you figure out what your “WHY” is. Knowing why you want to do something is incredibly powerful.
T—Time-bound: Think of a goal as a dream with a timeline. Goals and objectives don’t get done unless you set a time frame for achieving them. Whether your goal is to increase your book of business by 20% or find five new clients, choose a time frame to accomplish your goal.
As you set SMART goals, make sure they are your goals, not someone else’s. The only way to succeed in goal setting is to make sure the goal is your desire. Why? Because striving to achieve is not for the faint of heart. It can be tough to stick to your goal. You will not have the drive to work toward a goal if you are not passionate about it.
On occasion, you will fail to accomplish a specific goal. Don’t get discouraged if you get off track. Everyone hits speedbumps from time to time. The failure to achieve a specific goal is not important so long as you learned a lesson from the process and gave it your best effort. As Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If you fail to accomplish a goal, take a moment to reflect and define the destination of your journey. Remember your big picture: What do you want? Think back to your WHY—it’s the foundation of your goals and will help you stick to them over the long term. Ask yourself:
- Why did I choose my big-picture goal?
- What do I need to achieve in three years that will put me on the path to achieving my big-picture goal?
As you set goals for yourself for 2020, remember that good intentions will not get you there. You must have a plan. Otherwise, your resolutions are just wishful thinking.
The six-step plan to goal achievement
Building your roadmap is simple, but it takes a commitment or resolution from you to make the following steps a habit:
- Every Friday before you leave work, set your goals and priorities for the coming week.
- At the end of each day, reflect on how the day went, then set your goals, priorities, and actions for the next day. Put them on your calendar.
- Review your goals first thing each morning before you look at your email or return phone calls. Say your big-picture goal out loud. Commit to achieving it. Then review your calendar and make sure your goals are listed on it.
- Align your daily, weekly, and 90-day goals and actions with your annual and big-picture goals. Break them down into short-term, specific tasks and actions that will lead to achievement of your overall goal.
- Find a goal commitment partner. This can be a spouse, friend, partner, colleague, or mentor. Share your big-picture goal with your partner. Research shows that people who write down and then share their goals are 97% more likely to accomplish them than those who do not have any accountability.
- Every 90 days, review your progress toward achieving your annual goals. Ask yourself what you need to accomplish over the next 90 days to achieve your annual goals. After you define the necessary actions, write them down and commit to taking them. Put the action items on your calendar to ensure that you make it happen.
Goal setting should be a stimulating, energizing, and rewarding experience. If you approach goal setting with a focused mindset, the impact will be powerful.
Be SMART! Stay focused on the end goal and keep taking steps to achieve it. You’ll be on your way to making big life changes and seeing great results in 2020!
Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA, TRA, is chief executive officer of Beyond Insurance. Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level. Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace. Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.