Whether you’re setting stretch goals for yourself or your team, here are five steps you should follow:
1. Answer a few open-ended questions
Narrow down goal ideas by asking yourself the following open-ended questions:
- What would profoundly change our business or work performance?
- What does our industry need to progress?
- How can we provide more value to our customers and stakeholders?
- What’s the best possible outcome for this business’ future?
2. Analyze your most recent performances
Write down what you’ve learned from previous failures and successes to prepare yourself for taking on stretch goals. You’ll remind yourself that failure isn’t something to fear and you’re capable of achieving excellence, like you have in the past.
3. Check your resources
You can’t build a house without tools. Whether you’re running a small business with limited resources or working for a multinational with a never-ending budget, perform an audit of available resources to gauge whether you’re equipped to get started and sustain progress. Consider the following:
- Do you and your team have the time necessary to complete lofty goals, or should you work on getting a few things off your plate first?
- What kind of software and organizational skills or tools will help you map out steps, set metrics, and track progress?
- What budget do you have for new projects?
- Do you have a supportive network of leaders, mentors, and advisors to guide you toward success?
- Do you have access to explicit and tacit knowledge to complete new challenges?
4. Define success
Determine success to figure out whether your goals are lofty — but potentially achievable — or unrealistic. This might be gaining profits, increasing team engagement, or becoming more innovative.
Whatever it is, determine the key performance indicators you’ll use to define success to clearly understand where you’re headed.
5. Set goals
Outline your ambitious yet realistic goals, keeping in mind that just reaching for them is enough. Make sure everyone understands the metrics for success and what stretch goals are so they aren’t intimidated and defeated by these lofty goals.
Tips for surviving stretch goals
Striving to achieve stretch goals will test everyone’s limits. Here are a few ways to keep you motivated and resilient:
1. Break them up
Turn lofty objectives into short-term, more easily achievable milestones. Track individual tasks and build a roadmap with smaller deadlines to feel more organized, focused, and aware of steady progress. And celebrate every accomplishment to keep yourself and your teammates excited and motivated.
2. Seek diversity
Accomplishing goals outside your wheelhouse requires gaining fresh perspectives from people with different backgrounds and experiences.
Turn to team members, managers, and leaders within your organization and colleagues from other industries to understand how everyone approaches problem-solving.
3. Be realistic
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t meet a stretch goal. These goals are all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone — not marking a task off your list. Be honest and realistic about what can be accomplished in the short and long term.
Push yourself to learn from the process rather than rush to the finish line.