Goal Setting for High Performance in Your Work

Read Time:10 Minute

How to get to your next level of performance by setting the right goals in whatever work you do? Sangeeta Sumesh shows how to empower yourself for high performance to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

There is a high performer in each of us. We need to recognise moments of high performance and channelise our energy in the right direction. It is important to set goals. There are three reasons to set goals:

  • It gives clarity on what you want to do
  • Once you have clarity, you can plan the path ahead.
  • Goals are needed to achieve what you want to achieve.

The 3Ps of Goal Setting
According to me, if goal setting is an art, then there are three Ps in the art of goal setting—Personalise, Practical and Progressive.

  • Personalize your goals and customise them for your scenario.
  • Make it practical. It should not be just a fancy thing.
  • It must be progressive. Be clear about the progress that you want to achieve.

There is also the fourth P. If your goal is something that you are passionate about, then it becomes easier to achieve. If you are clear about what growth means to you, your subconscious mind will help you to achieve it.

What is high performance? Achieving superior results by performing at high standards is high performance. Remember you are competing against yourself and becoming a better version of you. We have all heard that goals must be SMART- that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. The goals must also conform to TOM.

T: Time frame. What do you want to achieve in the short term, medium term and long term?

O: Objective. The objective propels you towards your goals.

M: It must be measurable. Set your measurement targets.

The Rude Awakening
I come from a very humble background. My grandfather was a famous and well-to-do doctor in Chennai. He passed away suddenly and the family was not geared to face this challenge. My grandmother, a very sweet lady, did not know how to manage the finances. My dad happened to be the second son and he had three sisters to be married. As his elder brother had some challenges, my father when he was just 12, had to shoulder the responsibilities of the family.

Because of lack of financial management, the well-to-do family flipped over. So I was born in a very humble family. But as a young girl, I always dreamt. There was no TV or telephone or car at home. As I grew up, I resolved to keep my parents happy, comfortable and in a much better financial shape. I dreamt about getting good education and enjoying foreign trips.

CSR will help you to achieve your goals. I am not talking about Corporate Social Responsibility. C stands for your challenges; S stands for your solutions and R stands for your reflections.

The 7Ds and CSR in Achieving Goals

It is never too late to start dreaming about your goal. Let us look at the 7Ds that will help us in achieving our goals:

  • Dream about what you want to achieve.
  • Determination: Be determined in pursuing your goals.
  • Develop the required skillsets.
  • Discipline: Develop the discipline.
  • Design your path forward.
  • Drive: Have the drive and that is what motivates you.
  • Deliver the required results.

Reflect periodically on what you are doing and ask yourself why you are doing that. Know your priorities. Complete the things that are more important.

With seven Ds, getting to your goals is going to be a lot easier. Also, CSR will help you to achieve your goals. I am not talking about Corporate Social Responsibility. C stands for your challenges; S stands for your solutions and R stands for your reflections.

Three Common Challenges
Working with clients, I have come across some common challenges. Three common challenges are:

  • Lack of clarity.
  • Lack of time.
  • Remaining in the comfort zone. Magic happens only outside the comfort zone. So step out of your comfort zone.

What are the solutions for these challenges? A client of mine was the youngest VP in a multinational. She had planned her career growth so well. She had scaled many promotions very quickly. She accepted the promotions, only if they were leading to her growth. But at one point in time, she felt a little stuck. There were many disruptions and changes going on in the organisation and she felt overwhelmed by them. When I heard her journey, I was impressed.

As our conversation started, she realised that she was not aware of where she must be heading next. She understood that instead of getting stuck with the challenges, she must focus on the goals she had set for herself.

So, goals must have purposefulness. When you don’t have clarity, ask yourself what is it that you want to achieve and why you want to achieve. That will open up a lot of doors for you. Being purposeful will help you to achieve your goals faster.

Can’t he do it, Mom?
How can one overcome lack of time? This anecdote happened many years ago. My husband’s friends had come home for dinner. I had prepared everything and was waiting for them. But they were chatting on, as they had met after a long time. There was no sign of them joining for dinner. My little daughter felt sleepy and she wanted me to put her to sleep. If I did that, I knew that I would also fall asleep, as I was too tired after a long day. I kept telling her to hang on for some time and once I served the dinner for her dad and his friends, I would make her sleep.

Suddenly, she asked me, “Can’t dad serve the dinner for him and his friends and clean up the table?” That was an ‘aha’ moment for me. It never struck to me. My husband had no hesitation in doing that. But, as ladies, we generally tend to think that the whole world rests on our shoulders. The problem is in our thinking. If you can delegate, you can easily manage your time. Partner with your family and colleagues at work.

Have the Blisscipline
How can you step out of your comfort zone? I am an author now but I never imagined that I could write books. At the launch of my first book, I had butterflies in my stomach and even thought of calling it off, fearing criticisms for my book. Thankfully, it happened and one book led to the other.
The solution to this is what I call ‘Blissicipline’- that is, to make bliss out of whatever discipline that you want to get into. If you realise that whatever you do will be bliss, you can get out of your comfort zone. Similar thing happened when I decided to quit my corporate role and wanted to start on my own as a leadership coach. This phobia does not help you to grow. It is not easy to get over but you can train your mind. If you can motivate and push yourself, many things can get better.

Reflect periodically on what you are doing and ask yourself why you are doing that. Know your priorities. Complete the things that are more important.

Your goals must help you to Grow, to Excel and to feel Triumphant about yourself (GET). Choose areas that make you HIGH- that is, make you to feel Happy, Interested in what you do, do things that are Gainful (financial or otherwise) and make you feel Heroic. This is what I call GET HIGH as an acronym. Remember, High performance is not a destination but a journey.

Is there a difference between men and women in setting their goals and defining high performance?
What I have observed is that men are not as articulate as women. On goal setting, men are over-confident about themselves. Women on the other hand, though they may have the capabilities, doubt themselves. Their self-doubt comes in the way of their high performance. They also feel overwhelmed at the slightest of provocations and challenges.

Sometimes, in the journey, people get low. How can you get over this?
When people go through a low, it is better to give a pause. Like a catapult, when we take a step back and look at ourselves, it gives us a better picture. You don’t have to be a high performer continuously. The breaks will help us to rejuvenate. Feel good about what you are doing.

How can we balance goals and dreams?
Dreams are the starting point of our goals. My dreams about improving the quality of my life led to my goals and growth. The subconscious mind will tell you to be comfortable. But when you work towards your goals that help you realise your dreams, you stay motivated.

What is the relevance of aptitude in goal setting?
If you have the aptitude for something, you can achieve your goals faster. But we often tell ourselves that we have and do not have certain aptitudes. To give you an example, the initial part of my career, I spent in South Africa. We always think that only lean women can dance well. In South Africa, I saw many South African women, who were huge looking, loved music and dance. When they walked on the roads, they would hum a nice song and go about dancing gracefully. So we have to question our beliefs about our aptitudes. Unless we try it out, we may not know if we are good at something.

Is it advisable to set tough goals?
Goals should neither be too easy nor too tough to achieve. One needs to balance. Restrict it to one or two goals. Go one goal after the other. Your goals must make you to step out of your comfort zone.

Does culture in an organisation drive high performance or is it because of high performing individuals, the organisation succeeds?
For individuals to be high performers, they need to set goals and follow whatever we discussed. If the business needs to a high-performing one, the organisation must have and promote a high performance culture. Many parameters contribute to a high performance organisational culture, like the arts of communication, influencing, leading the team, getting things done, being purposeful and so on. It can vary from organisation to organisation.

Should goals be such that we need to upskill ourselves?
Yes. If that is what growth means to you, you need to upskill yourself and move from one peak to the other.

While delegating, we often end up following up and resolving disputes. How can we overcome this?
Ensure that the person to whom you delegate is trained adequately. Communicate your needs effectively. They may not complete it the way you would have done it. But still it is better. Train them and be articulate.

What should we delegate and what should not be delegated?
One of my clients was a bootstrapped entrepreneur. As our conversation started, he was very excited, as he had managed to build his website, though he is from a non-technical background. He was thrilled at what he had achieved. It was a great job and I appreciated him. He, of course, wanted to save some money.

Then he talked about the revenue growth. He said he had a huge pipeline of clients but he did not have the time to reach out to them. I asked him, “What if you had invested your time in contacting your potential customers, instead of developing the website? What if you had outsourced it?” He realised that the revenue growth would have been much more, if he had done that. You must be able to take these conscious calls and decisions.

Has gender been an obstacle in your life?
No. It has never been. Thanks to my upbringing, I have always believed in myself. So believe in your abilities and move ahead.

How do we keep our mind always positive and not overwhelmed by negativity?
A software person writes the program in such a way that the customer gets the results that they want. The mind also needs to be programmed. If you train your mind to look at positive things happening in your life and organisation and the positive qualities in people, then your mind will remain positive. You have the remote control of your mind. Tune to the channels that you want.