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On Track or Derailed? Five Reasons Goals Fail

Alan Andersen

My grandpa was a railroad engineer, so I grew up loving trains. From real ones to the models around the Christmas tree, I love to watch them roar along their clack-ity track. To this day, I love to walk along an endless railroad track balancing on the rail to see how far I can get before slipping off and then trying it again.

Because of this fondness, the thought of a train derailing is troubling. The image of that massive strength and power of those fierce engines lying helpless in a field or worse, in heap of metal, disturbs me.

Derailments are far and few between but when they happen, it's a big deal. While they are unintentional, you can count on authorities investigating to get to the source. Why? So the tragedy won’t happen again.

Why Goals Fail

1. The WHY Is Not Identified.

WHY do you want this goal? You have to start with something bigger than your goal. You must get to your purpose — “the why” you exist. Your values should dictate your goals, not the other way around. I love digging deep to identify the barriers to living your values and only set goals after your values are identified. In business, core values and purpose statement are essential for your culture and the why people work for you.

2. The WHAT Is Not Defined.

Once your WHY is identified, then you need a plan to live it out. This is your defined vision and mission. WHAT is it you want to accomplish in order to live your WHY? WHAT is needed? WHAT is wanted? WHAT will you do? In business, this is your strategic plan, from the five-year plan to the one-year goals to the quarterly theme to every single person on the team knowing their WHAT. This a big part of my work with executive teams and is absolutely key to organizations… and to you personally.

3. The HOW Is Not Clear.

Now that you know WHAT you are going to do to fulfill the WHY, it is time to get very clear on HOW you will accomplish it. Clarity and ownership is essential at this juncture. The fastest way to clarity is to get a trusted team around you to turn over every possibility, challenge the status quo, and identify every blind spot. It’s called productive conflict and will take you and/or your team to the next level.

4. The WHEN Is Not Serious.

Action steps to accomplish your goals must have a “by when” assigned to it. When the HOW is not broken down into action steps with dates attached to the steps, it is in grave danger of derailment. Solution: Calendar Management! Put the due dates in with appropriate reminders included, schedule blocks of non-negotiable time to work on the next step, and secure white space so you can think clearly. (Confession: This is my personal downfall!)

5. The WHO is not aligned.

Last but far, far from least you must get the right people in your life to help you achieve your goals. This may mean dismissing Negative Nellie or Downer Don from your circle of influence. It may require re-evaluating your culture, allowing those who do not align with your direction to exit gracefully and then attracting people who appreciate and support your WHY gratefully. Alignment of the right people doing the right thing in the right time for the right reason is sheer bliss and is actually quite simple – it’s just not easy!

The First Step — Today

 

So what is one thing you could do today to get yourself back on track? For me, it is calendar management. I need to block some time out, and so I am going to go do that right now. How about you? You are all smart leaders on this list. Listen to your gut and take two minutes — set the timer on your phone to commit and calendar your one thing! Right now!

Your Coach,


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