With the holidays and 2018 looming on the horizon, we are already turning inward and thinking through the year we had, the goals we set forth, and how we measured up.

I believe a good goal needs three things -  a perfect mixture of IAA - Inspiration, Accountability and Accessibility.

Early in my career I used a different acronym for judging my goals. You probably have heard the “SMART” formula: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The idea is, if any of these attributes are missing from a goal you are less likely to achieve it. SMART is a solid formula - I like it, it has served me well. I admit to getting lost in the actual planning. When using the SMART system I found that I got distracted by not having the perfect answer for one of the SMART letters. This can lead to planning so much that you never get around to executing.

Sometime in the last couple years I found a better way to think about goals. This completely changed my personal ‘goal protocol’. Instead of laboriously going through (or half making it through) the whole SMART thing, I stopped to think about what really mattered to me in a goal. Why do we have them, and why are they the key to success? Now before any personal goal ratification I simply ask myself these three questions.

  • Inspiration: Does the goal inspire me to create a better version of myself or my business?
  • Accountability: Does the goal put something at stake to keep me accountable?
  • Accessibility: Do I have the resources (time, ability, etc.) in place to execute?

Once I get the go ahead to check those boxes, I use them to help me put together a “Goal Statement”. I shall share a personal example. :)

“Start my own executive search firm in the next five years”.

(Yup, that was my first serious IAA goal!)

Did it inspire me? Heck yeah it did. I was so excited about being able to figure out how to set up an actual business. I come from a family of small business owners and I was super-excited to personally develop as a business owner.

Think about a goal you have, or one that you have been toying with committing to. Are you inspired to be a better person? Will you be volunteering and helping others? Perhaps reading a book on a subject you love but have fallen out of touch with. If it is inspirational to your person, your business or your craft, you can check this box.

What was at stake? At the time I moved on to start my own business I was working at a super-exciting startup. I loved all of the startups I have worked at - truly. I just want to do it my way! Doesn’t that sound kind of terrible? I wouldn’t dare say that out loud in a team of 25; it sounds egotistical, aggressive, know it all-y. Change the scene to being in charge of  your own company, no matter the size or scope, the good or the bad, it is completely allowed! Not being able to have this creative freedom at work was demotivating me. I want to live a life I design and I love, and so being able to recruit with my style, and my approach was at stake.

If your goal is to take your parents to Italy for their anniversary and you don’t hit your goal, how will that make you feel? If your goal is to write a book and five years later you realize you haven’t even written a blog post are you ashamed, embarrassed, determined? (Or is it time to switch goals? Just saying…)

Can I do it? This one took some time. Bob, the CEO of my first startup, Quid, early on suggested, or never let me forget, the idea of starting my own recruitment firm. I had other backers and supporters as well. In any case, I ran the numbers, and decided I would give it a try. That past two years have been awesome. I love bending and flexing my network and creating meaningful connections.

Do you have enough savings to take away from your current job? Do you have enough time to volunteer in the cancer ward? How is your family workload at the moment?

Once I have put my goal through my Inspiration, Accountability, and Accessibility lens, I like to write it out and post it on the corkboard above my desk for double the inspiration.

The best time to start setting goals is today. Don’t wait until the New Year when you can go into it clean, prepped, planned and ready to execute!