Let’s get one thing clear right out of the gate; high performers are made not born. It is no accident that high performers have ascended to their current state, and while they may make it look effortless I can assure there is a metric ton of blood, sweat, and tears that you’re not privy to. These individuals have taken the courage to boldly assert themselves in a world that harasses them to compromise, lower their expectations, be normal, and don’t strive for more. The gravity pulling them towards mediocrity is heavy, but their desire, drive, and discipline for more help them achieve exit velocity. There is a litany of things high performers do that others don’t and in this particular blog we’re going to focus on how high performers spend their time at the end of the year to reflect on where they’ve been and set their goals for the upcoming year.
Looking Backwards to Look Forwards
As is stated in the title this is part 2 of a two part blog series on how high performers reflect and goal set at the end of the year. The reason for a two part blog on this subject is simple; high performers do not charge forward into the future without the valuable knowledge gained from their previous experiences. If you’re like me and have a go go go go GOOOOOO disposition (I’m a freaking 10 Quickstart on the Kolbe A Index) it can be tempting to just jump into goal setting for the year ahead. However, any goals that one would set without the insights gained from experiences over the past year would be ill informed. In summary you have to look backwards to clearly and effectively charge ahead. Refer back to “The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework” in blog 1 of this series if you’ve not already read through that and then come back to this. I’ll wait right here while you do that…
Okay, ready to go? Cool, let’s do this!
The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework
Alright, enough reflection! Let’s get to the planning about how you’re going to kick ass in the year to come. I’ve worked with tons of high performers that informed “The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework”, and I’m leaning on those same insights to present to you “The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework”. Am I saying that these two six-part frameworks are the sole truth and path you must follow in order to become a high performer? Hell no! This is a “framework” guys, which means it’s intended to serve as a general guide to carry you forward. There’s beauty in all of us being different, and there’s no one way to becoming a high performer. However, there are certain self-evident truths that should not be ignored, and that’s what we’re we’re trying to cover here. Take this framework and bend it as you need to work for you.
The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework
- Be bold. This is not the time to shrink
- Focus on quality. Not quantity.
- Be specific on what you want
- Be specific on how you’ll achieve it
- Set your mind. Commit to discipline
- Harness incremental reassessment
1. Be Bold. This is Not the Time to Shrink
As I stated earlier there are a multitude of forces at play that are actively pulling you towards a state of mediocrity. Unfortunately, too many people fall victim to this and leave shameful amounts of their potential on the table. So, let me remind you that you are not called to be mediocre. You are called to greatness and capable of achieving it, so set your goals accordingly. Be bold in what you want to achieve for the upcoming year. Set your goals as if they’re are just out of reach of your current capabilities. Is this scary? Hell yeah it’s scary, but it’s important to set goals in this way to push yourself to the full extend unveil and claim that of which you are capable because just as you are deeply capable you are equally deeply worthy.
2. Focus on Quality. Not Quantity.
This is one of the areas that novice high achievers stumble with. Their ambition pushes them to set way too many goals. While I appreciate and applaud the ambition it’s misplaced in terms of what real high performance is all about. You see, the more seasoned high performer knows much more about the topic of value, and value is much more attributed to quality than it is quantity. High performers set no more than 3-5 highly ambitions goals in the various domains of their life that are all prolifically rich in value.
3. Be Specific On What You Want
High performers know that in order to be successful in goal setting it is imperative that you are as specific as possible. Setting general goals, such as “I want to make more money in the upcoming year” is far too directionless. If you want to visit Paris would you try to book an airline ticket to Europe? Nope, you’ve gotta fly into Charles De Gaulle or Orly if you want to indulge in baguettes, see the Orsay, or watch Iya Traore work his magic juggling a soccer ball outside of Sacre Coeur (seriously he’s awesome). Write down what goal you’re after with a high degree of specificity that would make Robert Frost envious.
4. Be Specific On How You’ll Achieve It
High performers know the difference between setting goals and making wishes. Wishes don’t require a plan to achieve them. Wishes magically happen, and as we asserted at the top high performers are made not born. Just as you’re specific on what you want, you also have to be just as specific on how you’ll go about achieving it.
Note: If you’re making “reach goals” (goals that are just beyond your current capabilities) you may not be able to form a complete plan to carry you forward. That’s totally fine! You don’t have to see the totality of what must be done to achieve this “reach goal”, but you should be able to see the first 2-3 steps you’d need to take to achieve your goal.
5. Set Your Mind. Commit to Discipline
It’s widely known that in January you’ll see many people flocking to gyms adorning themselves in new workout outfits to make good on their new years resolutions. At the start they’re may be highly motivated too, but if you look around that same gym in March these people are nowhere to be seen. Why? Simply put these people are fueling themselves only on motivation. Am I saying motivation is a bad thing? Absolutely not! Motivation is an incredibly powerful force. Think of motivation like wind and you’ve got yourself a sailboat. If you’ve got a nice and steady 18 knot breeze blowing then you my friend have a full sail and are cruising forward towards achieving your goals with little effort on your behalf. However, when that wind dies down to nothing what’s going to power your sailboat is going nowhere fast. You see, motivation is much like weather in that it’s constantly fluctuating. There will be days when you don’t have much motivation and if that’s all you’re using to drive you forward to reach your goals then what then? You must be powered by something more reliable than motivation alone. So, when that wind dies down and your sail is empty you’ve got to grab a paddle and start pulling if you want to close the gap on reaching your goals. Let’s talk discipline.
Commit to Discipline
High performers understand motivation well. They appreciate it when it’s high, but they know with absolute certainty that they can not rely on it. High performers put their faith in something much more reliable than motivation; they trust in discipline. Discipline is the act of grabbing that paddle and continuing to pull yourself towards your goals when you may not “feel like it”.
Given high performers know they must rely upon discipline they set their minds to a state where discipline is a pre-programmed constant as part of their goal attainment strategy. The best way I can simplify this notion and it’s critical nature is as follows; “Commit to discipline or commit to failure”
Note: Hey, don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself to be unmotivated from time to time. Being unmotivated does not mean you “don’t have it takes to be a high performer” by any stretch. Rather, it just means you’re human. As we often say here at The Upward Spiral, just give yourself some damn grace every once and awhile!
6. Harness Incremental Reassessment
Okay, so let’s come correct on one thing here. Planning out as far as a year is a fallacy. It’s damn near impossible to do b/c there’s too many damn variables that we can’t see and/or predict. Operating in the world is is far removed from operating in a lab environment where you can limit and control variables. The world is chaos and you’ve gotta flow with it.
High performers know this and they program set intervals where they’ll stop for a moment, get a 10,000 foot view of their situation in an effort to reassess their situation, and use this information to recalibrate their direction and efforts. Putting your head down and plowing ahead is certainly good, but if you don’t peek your head up once in awhile you run the risk of running far afield of where you want to be.
I want to stress that you have to pre-program this into your year. As Isaac Newton attests “objects in motion tend to stay in motion” and that can be diabolically true of high performers. Setup your incremental reassessments ahead of time to ensure you don’t get caught up in the momentum of your efforts and the moment.
A Note on Change: Far too many people take a hardline bullheaded approach to their efforts in thinking that they must constantly stay on track. Making a change is not necessarily tantamount to failure. Agility is a good thing. Being able to assess where you are, take in all of the factors that have presented themselves, and then shift and adapt is a admirable skill that the best high performers have worked to hone.
High performers are built through conscious action and intentional effort. As we transition from one year to the next don’t miss the opportunity to properly reflect and goal set just as high performers do. Don’t rush into the goal setting phase even though that may be enticing. Proper reflection is critical for effective goal setting, and it’s been my goal with these two blogs to demystify how high performers go about their end of year reflection and goal setting process. The frameworks I’ve provided on both reflection and goal setting are here to help guide you forward so you can achieve your goals, become a dangerously effective person, and live a rich life filled with meaning and purpose.
Now, go forward not with the goal of perfection, but with the goal of growth.