Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Key to Successful Goal Setting - Skill, Scope and Urgency

Want to achieve your goal? Using - Skill, Scope and Urgency - you can and here's how.

Job interviewers always ask "Where do you want to be in 5 years?" Most of us know but the answer would not please the interviewer. Goal setting is a important skill that we pay little attention to and then wonder why we don't get where we want to go.

Set goals, duh, but how?  It's really simple and here are the steps.

You need three components to make goal setting successful - Skill, Scope and Urgency .
   Skill - This is the first question to ask, do I have the skills necessary to achieve this goal. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about talent. If you're not a surgeon, you can't do brain surgery. If you are not an opera singer, you can still sing a song.

   Scope - Define how big your goal is. The scope of your goal will have a direct impact on the urgency component. I want to dig a trench from Chicago to Milwaukee using a hand shovel will not be possible because you will run out of lifetime before your goal is completed.

   Urgency - The time you want to complete your goal or the date you want it completed by (remember the "Where do you want to be" question?). The scope of your goal will in some way determine the urgency. I want to meet Paul McCartney tomorrow will not be attainable if tomorrow you are in New York, and Paul McCartney is in Liverpool.

 Lets look at writing a book. 

I want to write a murder mystery.

What skill set do I need?  I need to know how to write or dictate. OK, I can do that so I have the skills.

I want to write a murder mystery in 3 months. Good, now how long will this book be? I need to set the size or scope of the goal I want to reach. I could write a 3 page book but it is most likely I want to write a book of more than one chapter and probably over 100 pages.

Steps to reaching the goal of writing a murder mystery book of more than one chapter and more that 100 pages. I want to add an upper limit to the goal to keep it manageable. More that 100 but less that 500 pages will work.

Think of any goal as a journey, the steps represent the forward momentum to the achievement of the goal. 

Steps for writing a murder mystery: 
1. Define characters
2. Set plot line
3. Choose a setting for the story to take place in
4. Outline the structure.
5. Write the book
6. Proof the book

I have 3 months to write my book, I can now determine how much time I should spend on each of my steps.  Start with the most time consuming step, the actual writing.  The book will have multiple pages (100 or more) so I will need to spend most of my time writing.  I can't know how to divide my time up until I have completed steps 1 through 4.  These steps will determine how I define my time to write the book.

OK, I have done the work of steps 1 - 4 and I am 3 weeks into my project. I have 9 weeks left.  My outline defines 7 chapters. Here is how steps 5 and 6 will break down:
5. Write the book - One chapter per week to complete all 7 chapters in 7 weeks
6. Proof the book - Proof the book in 2 weeks

So 12 weeks later I have a mystery book written.

Any goal that complies with the elements of  - Skill, Scope and Urgency  - can be achieved in this manor.

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