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The RGI Blog

Reaching Goals: Separating Fantasy from Reality

The new year brings resolutions for individuals and new goals for organizations. Resolutions take commitment and planning, as do goals. How do you make achievable and realistic goals instead of organizational pipe dreams? And how do you bring volunteer leaders and staff along with you reaching those goals?

reaching goals

Clear as Mud

Break your goal down to the most basic level – what are you trying to do? Define what you want to do, how you want to do it and identify how you’ll know if you were successful.

We’ve all heard of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Many people and organizations use them very well. In my opinion and experience, sometimes these make sense but other times I can’t make a SMART goal work for me or my association. For a more aspirational goal, for example, it may be difficult to articulate the five letters in “SMART.” That does not make your goal “dumb,” it just forces you to slow down and think things through a bit more. Be as clear as it is possible to be with the information you have at the time. The more specific you can be, the better able you are to track and report progress to your team, your board and your members.

Back to the Future

You are building on your past – your successes, your failures, your history, etc. Your past will support your future, so consider it. Look to the performance of past programs or services to help set realistic future goals. For example, look at the last time you introduced a new event. If these new offerings averaged 25 attendees, setting the bar for your next new event at 1,000 is not realistic.

Pull as much data as you can that is relevant to your goal and make an educated guess. Calculate your breakeven, for example, and budget conservatively based on your average. If you have data that supports this new initiative being well supported, then make your goal a stretch goal or one that takes growth into consideration. Either way, it will be based on reality and so much more likely to be supported by all involved.

Take Baby Steps

The aspiration to start something new is admirable. If a review of resources identifies a shortfall, though, revisit the rollout and planning. Outline smaller steps that get you to your endgame. If something is not going as planned, identifying smaller milestones will help you think through how you can pivot to ensure success.

Morale and buy-in are some of your most prized commodities when launching a new project. Identifying – and celebrating – more milestones along the way, even if they’re smaller, can bolster both as we all continue to move faster, do more, be better, etc. Marking these “smaller successes” allows everyone to confidently continue pursuing your common goal and have faith the goal will be met.

Learn more about how to keep your strategic plan on track, download our free e-book: How to Prevent Your Strategic Plan From Failing.