One thing I recommend is that you engage in evaluation during a dedicated time where you can focus your attention on the process and that (if possible) you work with someone who knew about the goal or helped you be accountable. Having someone to go through this process with you can be supportive and enriching. Your support person may see things you don't, or be able to frame things in a way that may help you see other opportunities, strategies or possibilities. If you have been accountability partners, you can also help your partner do the same.
Where do I start? Periodic Evaluation of Progress
Some evaluaton tools are built into your SMART goals. Remember "Time Liimited"? Having a set time period for your plans means that you have built in a spot for you to pause and reflect on your progress. If you've done everything you needed to in that time period, analyzing what helped you do it can help you figure out strategies for achieving future goals. If you didn't quite meet your time goal, looking at what got in the way might help you identify re-occurring obstacles or factors that might interfere with achieving goals in the future. No matter what the immediate outcome, this process will help you both now and in the future.
The first step in any periodic evaluation process is to ask yourself whether or not your goal has changed. Do you still want or need to achieve this goal? If yes, keep going! If no, maybe evaluate whether or not the goal was right for you. Some questions you might ask include:
- Is this something I really want? I know many people who set goals because other people want them to or think they should. Many of these goals aren't bad, but if you want to achieve a goal, doing it for yourself is going to dramatically increase your chances of achieving it. Think weight loss, smoking cessation, not drinking - these are common examples of how your own motivation can affect your chances of achieving long-term change.
- Is the goal defined well enough? Is it SMART, or structured? If not, what can you tweak (assuming you still want to reach that goal)? Do you need to change the focus or structure of your work?
- Is the goal really achievable? Sometimes, we have to admit that no matter how much we want to reach the goal, it simply is not feasible. No matter how much I want it and no matter how well I define, plan and act, I will never be a prima ballerina or play in the NBA - it's just not realistic.Will you realistically have the resources you need? That might be a limiting factor that can affect whether or not you're able to achieve your objective.
Check-ins for Short-Term and Long-Term or Complex Goals:
- How was your energy level? Were you tired, hungry, feeling sick, or had some other physical factor that affected your energy levels? Is it a temporary setback or is this a factor you might have to account for in the future?
- Did other activities or busy-ness interfere? Sometimes, things come up that we don't expect - if you get a flat tire, or your computer's hard drive decides not to work, you might be stuck. However, some things you can control. Maybe you've overscheduled because there are simply too many things have to be done, or maybe you know that you tend to be tired after work. Being honest and recognizing that can help you set up strategies that will give you a better shot of reaching goals in the future.
So what about bigger, more complex goals? You may have a great SMART goal - how do you know you're on track? For longer-term goals, building in time to evaluate your progress, modify your plan if necessary, and/or celebrate successes in progress. Some possible strategies include:
- Depending on the length of time it will take to achieve your goal, you may want to set a weekly, biweekly, or monthly check-in.
- Depending on the type of your goal, you may want to test out a sample of your work or product. For example, when I was studying for my license, I took practice tests to assess my knowledge.
- If you don't have a sample product or a physical measure, checking in with another person who can give you feedback can help. If you're developing an online e-course or trying to assess what topics to write about on your blog, ask someone or set up a survey for feedback.
Some questions you can ask yourself during these check-ins include:
- What progress have I made toward my goal? Is there a way to measure it or test it? If so, how can I sue that information?
- What strategies have helped me the most? What do I feel comfortable with, what has been effective so far?
- What strategies haven't worked so well? What is it about them that was ineffective?
- Do I want to keep the same strategies I've been using or do I want to change strategies? If I decide to change them, do I want to spend some time developing new strategies or can I use others from previous strategizing? If I want to develop new ones, how will that affect my timeline and will that help me?
- Where do I want to focus the most effort at this point? Has it changed based on the progress so far? If so, how will refocusing help me reach my goal?
- Do I need to plan for more or different resources? What do I need from this point, and do I need to modify my process in order to get the resources I need? Do I need to modify my goal to account for differences in resources I have access to?
Wrapping It All Up: Where Do I Go From Here?
- Did you change your mind about your goal? Honestly, it happens. Sometimes what was important at the beginning of the process may not be as important as time goes on.
- Did things happen that you couldn't control? If so, how did you handle it?
- Do you want to keep trying to reach that goal and is it possible to do so? If so, maybe use this opportunity as a chance to re-assess your strategies, planning, and resources
- Do you want to try to work on a new goal, or maybe modify this one?
- As with the short-term or brief goals, ask yourself questions about energy level, interfering factors, availability of resources, etc.
When it's all said and done, it's important to review what happened, whether or not you reached your goal . Chances are that you learned a lot along the way!
- What did you learn about yourself during this process? Did you uncover aspects of yourself that you want to work on? What strengthened you and helped you? What got in your way, and what motivated you?
- What did you learn about those around you during this process? Did you find support or resources in unexpected places? Who walked this journey with you?
- If this was a "big" goal, how does it fit with who you want to be as a person and how you want to live your life? Are your proud of yourself and your accomplishment(s)? Did reaching this goal bring you joy, improve your life and/or make you a better person?
- Regardless of the outcome, what in the process are you grateful for?
- And finally, what's next? What are you ready for in life, and how will you get it?
Disclaimer: The information and content of this blog are not meant to constitute therapy or therapeutic advice. If you are in need of help or think you’d like to talk to a counselor or psychologist, there are many available. If you are in a crisis, emergency or life-threatening situation, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. You’re not alone, and there are people who care and want to help. Calling 911 or going to your emergency is not weakness; it’s a true sign of strength.
If you are interested in life coaching or therapy with Dr. Burlingame-Lee or have a question or comment for her, please call (970) 776-6043. You may also contact her via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All information and content on this blog is ©2016 by Dr. Laura Burlingame-Lee, Ph.D., dba “The Power of Each Other.” For inquiries regarding reproduction or use for any purpose, please contact her at (970) 776-6043.