‘Goal Congruence’ and the Focused New Year’s Resolution

Since this blog is the result of a New Year’s Resolution to begin sharing my writing online, I hope you’ll indulge a few initial posts on the subject of resolutions (or perhaps more broadly…goal-setting…), even though we’re well beyond the primetime for such topics!

Get SMART

Throughout the holiday season (December/January), the blogosphere is absolutely replete with posts about New Year’s Resolutions.  Some are very inspiring…others…less so…

While reading ubiquitous calls for SMART resolutions is an important annual reminder…

(Specific > Measurable > Actionable > Realistic > Time-Bound)

having read such advice for several years in a row, I was eager to hear some fresh perspectives on the subject.

The New Year’s Resolution (singular) seemed to be a popular concept this year.  That is, beyond developing SMART resolutions, many recommended that we be hyper-focused on a single, overarching theme for the year (e.g., fitness, personal finance, etc.). 

By focusing on a narrow area of our lives where we desire to make a fundamental change, it is argued that we will have a much greater likelihood of success…and I don’t disagree.  While I’ll offer a somewhat differing opinion in an upcoming post, I must admit that I responded very favorably to this view. 

When thinking of what I’ve been learning recently about corporate performance management, I came to recognize this concept as ‘goal congruence.’    

Goal Congruence

From a corporate performance management perspective, ‘Goal Congruence’ can be understood as the ‘managerial principle that all of a firm’s sub-goals must be [aligned toward the achievement] of a central set of objectives.’

With this perspective, a singular resolution focus, it becomes very easy to prioritize your decisions/actions. 

Those activities which do not align with what is necessary to achieve your strategic objective (goal/resolution) should be disregarded as distractions.  Said another way, your singular, strategic goal/resolution should be supported by a foundation of only highly aligned, increasingly tactical/SMART action items.

Prioritization isn’t so easy when you have multiple (likely competing) resolutions for the New Year…

  • Train for/Run a Half-Marathon
  • Start a Side-Business
  • Learn to Play the Guitar
  • Spend More Time with Friends

that is to say, when you don’t have goal congruence…

It’s very hard to find time to ‘Train for/Run a Half Marathon’ when you also want to use some of your waking hours outside of work to ‘Start a Side-Business’ or ‘Learn to Play the Guitar.’ 

While some would argue (and perhaps rightfully so) that if they’re all truly important to you, you’ll make the time to do it all…practically speaking, non-congruent goals have a much lower likelihood of success.    

Designing and Implementing a Goal Congruent New Year’s Resolution

Spend a few minutes thinking about your most important priority for the New Year.  Come December 2011, if you have achieved only one goal, what would that goal need to be in order for you to feel that your 2011 was an overwhelming/undeniable success?  That’s your resolution.

Having established your single resolution/theme, design supporting goals/sub-goals around that ‘strategic objective.’ 

Now, throughout the year, when you’re confronted with various (perhaps conflicting) opportunities or challenges, you’ll have strong, objective criteria against which to measure and ultimately accept/reject them…without regrets!

Note:  I should probably file this post in the ‘Practice What You Preach, Geoff’ category, as I must admit that my goals for the year aren’t highly congruent.  It’s not overly aligned to consider starting a blog while also having grand plans to train for a 10-mile road race and to earn a challenging professional credential…

Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I’ll share my view of a more balanced resolution approach…an approach which I employed to develop my own resolutions this year.

Your thoughts?

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I welcome and look forward to your comments!

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2 Responses to ‘Goal Congruence’ and the Focused New Year’s Resolution

  1. Pingback: You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything… | geoffreylennon

  2. Pingback: The ‘Personal Balanced Scorecard’ Approach to Goals & Resolutions | geoffreylennon

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