Peter Drucker famously said, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” and, to determine whether we’re making progress on our goals, we need a clear system of measurement. In our 10-part series on goal setting, we’re doing a deep dive into the art of defining goals and developing a “master plan” of actions to achieve them.
There are three stages in goal setting:
- Defining the goal: What is it? What is it not?
- Developing a plan: What’s on the road map that gets us from Point A to Point B?
- Executing the plan: This is often the hardest part of achieving goals, and it comes down to diligence and tenacity.
Our previous article in the series touched on prioritizing your goals. Today we’re covering how to measure success on the way to reaching those goals.
How to Measure the Achievement of Goals
If you fail to measure your progress on a goal, you might advance slower than you’re capable of — and you won’t even be aware of it.
Here are the elements you should take into consideration when you’re creating a system of measurement for your goal.
Time is our most limited resource, which means we must be especially careful in how we use it. Furthermore, you need to set different milestones to check in on the progress of your goals. These milestones should be laid out in your systems of measurement. Everyone involved in achieving the goal should understand the weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins and what progress they need to make at each milestone. After all, your goal may not even be effective if you don’t accomplish it in an appropriate timeframe.
Before putting your systems of measurement in place, you need to understand what resources you have available to invest in your goals. Tools, technology, and data can dramatically impact how quickly you’re able to achieve a certain goal.
Remember that resources include not just technology and data, but people. A mentor or coach could be a game-changer in how quickly you’re able to achieve your goal.
Measure your goal’s impact through quantitative data whenever possible. Why? It provides you with positive reinforcement to continue working toward the goal. The bigger the impact of the goal, the more inspired you’ll be to keep working toward it. If the goal doesn’t inspire you, you may need to refine it.
Moreover, an appropriate system of measurement can provide us with information about our resources. Success is an objective point we keep in our sight line the entire time we are working towards our goals and measurement tells us if we are using our resources efficiently and effectively along the way.
Lastly, measurement helps us hold people accountable for achieving their goals. Think of it like a performance review for yourself and your team.
Steps to Measuring Your Progress Toward a Goal
Now it’s time to design your systems of measurement for your goal. This happens in three steps:
1. Choose the method.
There are two measurement methods: quantitative and qualitative. Deciding which method to use can be tricky and depends on the type of goal you want to achieve.
- A quantitative measurement should be used for goals that can easily be measured numerically, such as time.
- A qualitative measurement can be used for goals that are more difficult to measure numerically, such as teamwork.
When working towards goals, quantitative measurements make it much easier to see exactly how much progress you’ve made.
If you find that your goal revolves around qualitative data, however, then you can easily create a ranking system to turn it into quantitative data.
For example, if your goal is to feel more confident leading meetings, then you can score your feelings on a scale of 1-10 for how confident you felt. Your score will impact how much preparation or coaching you need to make progress toward your goal. With all this in mind, we can easily see why the SMART goal format is so effective; you never have to doubt where you’re at while working towards a goal.
2. Choose the measurement.
Now decide what system (distance, weight, etc.) and units (miles, pounds, etc.) will be the best metric for quantifying or qualifying your progress.
- If the goal is quantitative, you can choose something like time as the system and minutes as the unit of measurement.
- If the goal is qualitative, you can choose a scale as the system and something like 1-10 for the measurement unit.
3. Choose the frequency.
Lastly, determine how often you’ll check in on the progress you’re making on your goal. You may feel that it’s more effective to provide measurements towards the goals you try to hit each week (for example: lose one pound each week). Just be sure you give yourself room to make adjustments based on the data you receive at your check-ins.
Although it’s incredibly simple, deciding how you’re going to measure your goal significantly increases your chances of achieving it. When you can measure your progress and make adjustments for improvement, you’ll never be wondering where you are on your road to success.
The Bottom Line
The best way to go after your goals is to commit to a precise method of measuring your progress.
By reading this article, you’re already on the road to making changes! Learning about goal setting in a workshop is a hands-on method you can use to begin putting those changes into action. Be sure you sign up for our upcoming goal setting workshops to take your goal setting work to the next level.
We’re offering three sessions on personal goal setting (whether life, career, or health) and three sessions on goal setting for hedge fund and family office leaders and their teams.