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Are There Holes In Your Goals?

BY TAYLOR BROWN
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

Goal-setting is often cited by coaches, parents, and teachers as a necessary component of achievement. Goal-setting itself, however, is not all it takes to achieve greatness. Winning teams and losing teams all set goals. 

Achieving excellence is the process that comes after goal-setting. The process can be created intentionally or left unattended. When intention is brought to the process, goals are more likely to be achieved. When the process is left unattended, goals are forgotten and left unattained. 

The most high-performing teams, organizations, and individuals do not leave goal achievement to chance. They engineer systems deliberately to support the process toward goal achievement. 

One of the most popular systems is Objectives and Key Results or OKR. Using this system is simple and has the potential to align individual and organizational attention and energy.

Objectives are what you’re striving toward and generally involve the big picture. Key Results are how you’re going to achieve those larger Objectives. For each Objective you set, there should be three or four Key Results that support the process of attaining the Objective. Additionally, for Objectives and Key Results to be effective, they must be specific and time-bound. This means they cannot be vague or have unclear timelines. 

Imagine you’re a rower in your junior year of high school and you want to row in college. The goal can seem incredibly lofty. Using the Objectives and Key Results system, however, the goal is translated into specific and timebound language that does not seem quite as scary. 

Here’s an example: 

Objective  No 1: Get recruited and accepted at a Division 1 rowing university.

Done by: 12/15/2022

Recognize that large Objectives with a significant number of variables will be less controllable than Key Results. For instance, you cannot control the coaches’ decision-making or the other rowers’ level of skill. Therefore, Key Results should focus on variables more in your control and should be clearly measurable. Measurable Key Results make it very clear when you’ve attained them. 

Key Result No. 1: Visit 10 Division 1 rowing universities and speak to head coaches.

Done by: 06/01/2022

Key Result No. 2: Submit early-action applications 

Done by: 11/01/2022

Key Result No.3: Drop 10 seconds on 2,000-meter PR 

Done by: 09/01/2022

Key Result No.4: Attain 3.8 GPA 

Done by: 11/01/2022

These OKRs are for illustration purposes only and do not represent all the steps required to row at a Division-1 university. When each of these Key Results is achieved, new Key Results can be set toward the same Objective, and when the Objective is attained, a new Objective can be created. 

Goal-setting systems do not have to be complicated and arduous. Simply writing down a main objective and the steps (Key Results) in the achievement process will move you toward your goals. 
The important part is putting pen to paper and mapping out what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it. Now go find that pen! 

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