How do we set realistic goals for ourselves and not become discouraged if we don’t meet them?
The answer lies in the difference between goals and expectations.
Goals are flexible because they are built around a plan of how to reach them.
Expectations however are only a want or need – without planning how it will happen. An expectation has no weight or process around it. If we expect something, there is a sense that it should happen, only because we want it. But we know that’s not likely to happen.
In reality, it’s our goals that keep us rooted and provide the foundation to do or become what we want.
A goal provides focus – it’s a direction – it’s what we work toward. Goals are identified as possible outcomes with a process defined to help us reach them.
Goal setting helps us create a plan to reach our goals -- it provides a process orientation.
However, goals can and should be reviewed and possibly changed, depending on external factors and the measurable results of the process to reach them.
It’s our expectations that throw us off course.
If you have an expectation to win a race, or get a job promotion, or write a book, and it doesn’t happen, there is disappointment. However, if these expectations are goals, then you can have a plan to work towards reaching them. This is the value of creating SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound – which help to identify the goal, when and how to reach it, and how you will know if it’s been reached.
When we set performance goals for ourselves or our staff, we need to make sure they are SMART. Once in place, we can create a plan that outlines tasks that need to be accomplished in order to reach our goals. In this case, fulfilling the tasks are expectations that are defined and deliberate and set in place to help reach identified goals.