This article was written by Claire Marriott and originally posted on LinkedIn here.
As we continue to try and navigate these unprecedented times, we can firmly hold onto strategies such as the setting of smart goals. This gives the organisation, its respective individuals, and teams something concrete to work towards and help them steer through. When it comes to goal setting though how might we do this better? we talk about SMART and motivating goals yet how often do we really connect in with our emotions and how we feel about our goals.
Setting the right goals may seem like an easy thing to do, but in practice while it’s a goal and it follows all of the SMART measures, an emphasis on targets and challenges that people need to work towards, we can often find is there is no energy towards actually achieving these. For goals to help us learn and grow we have to be motivated by them. When it comes to motivation our emotions act as the guide, they give us an emotional charge such as excitement, curiosity, or a sense of anticipation.
On visiting goal progress, there are teams who might be making headway and feeling inspired by their goals, in contrast there are those who aren’t advancing. An investigation can show a level of defensiveness and excuses as to what is getting in their way, including not enough time, busy with other priorities and a certain level of ambivalence.
Stepping back and asking ourselves why are goals not being achieved, are they too complex, risky, or too big a stretch? We can all make assumptions as to what is going on. However, stopping to take the time and asking for people’s emotional response to the goal in terms of how they feel, gives a completely different window in which to look in.
In our workplaces we can certainly relate to goals that we know we should be focusing on. However, when setting these goals, they are often externally motivated, and are the ones that we can easily let fall by the wayside or have a level of reluctance towards achieving. In defining the goal and our emotional connection to it, we can tap into our desired and undesired feelings that will help and hinder us in getting it achieved. By paying attention to our emotional states along the way and investigating their causes we can respond more thoughtfully and make the progress we want towards the achievement of our goals.
So, if you can see there isn’t much of anything happening when checking in around progress of a goal and they are telling you they feel dread then it’s a good bet that the goal isn’t the right goal for them, or they have not found their emotional leverage to get behind it yet. If they are saying they are uncomfortable then this is a great opportunity to take the time to discover what is uncomfortable for them, goals that stretch are designed to take you out of your comfort zone, so being uncomfortable can be a good thing but still wise to check in!
So, what’s your emotional response to your goals? How connected to them are you? Are you feeling excited and energised? (An indicator that you are on the right track) or are you feeling stuck, frustrated, or diminished, all feelings that we need to pay attention to. If there is no energy and a complete in-difference, then this goal may no longer be serving you and it’s time to re-evaluate.
Understanding our emotions are critical to effective goal setting, we know that the setting of goals can increase employee engagement, increase efforts, an overall sense of accomplishment, which in turn can boost morale and workplace satisfaction. But when we don’t take the time to connect in with goals and our emotions, we minimise our opportunities for advancement and the opportunity to produce more creative outcomes.
That being said isn’t it time for us all to connect in with our goals on an emotional level.
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