The relevance of goal setting

Clarity about personal goals is a prerequisite for using one's own resources wisely. Self-management means setting goals and achieving them through one's own actions. The principle of Plan - Do - Check - Act applies to both project and self-management. You can plan your activities, link them to other areas of work and take countermeasures in the event of undesirable developments.
A person holds a compass in the air


What are the benefits of being clear about your goals?

You can only sail into the wind if you know where you are going. The benefits of having clear objectives are that you can make the best use of the resources available to you and you can measure whether you have achieved your objectives. It is therefore worth taking the time to find out which ports you want to head for and what your goals are.

How do you set goals for yourself as a project manager?

Personal goals provide a framework for your actions and prevent you from getting lost in randomness. It is better to have a concrete goal than to define the way to get there too precisely.

Step 1: Determine the SMART goals

Goals need to be achievable and verifiable, so they should be SMART (i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and time-bound). 
Like project goals, personal goals can be set on a timeline (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly goals), but the time orientation comes later in the implementation planning. Your big life goal is particularly powerful because it provides absolute clarity and has a strong motivational effect. So, start by writing down what you want to achieve in your life, both personally and professionally, and what you want your legacy to be. Experience teaches us that when you are inspired by an idea and passionate about your goal, you can do the unthinkable and soar to unimagined heights.

Step 2: Prioritising goals

Potential conflicts and limiting constraints need to be considered and are best examined after the objective has been formulated. However, goal formulation also needs to be underpinned by goal prioritisation. How important are the individual objectives, and which objectives can be achieved by when? The answers to these questions will give you clarity about your actions in the near and distant future. This is also the key to justifying your goals and checking them against ethical and moral standards.
Every day, prioritise what you need to do and the decisions you need to make. This takes complexity out of the system, breaks down complex processes into manageable steps and ensures that you can work through them one at a time.

Step 3: Planning and realising the goals

To achieve your personal goals, you need to think through the tasks at hand and assess the chances of achieving them under the given circumstances (e.g., whether you have enough time and money).
You know where you are today, you know the path that led you here and you have an idea of where you want to be one day. But you also know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So? Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Completed work and tasks bring peace and inner relaxation.

Step 4: Regularly review and adjust your goals

No one has a patent on the royal road, and you have to find your own way. Check how far you have come towards your goals, speed up a little at times and then take a break. You can do this because you know your big goal. Align and harmonise your professional and personal goals and activities, your interests and hobbies.
Check your personal goals regularly to see if they still make sense and how far you have come. In case of deviations between the actual and the target state, take control measures, i.e., adjust your goals or your approach.

Integration into the daily work routine as a project manager

The easiest way to integrate goal orientation into a project manager's daily routine is to focus on the day's activities. It is helpful to write down all the professional and personal activities planned for the day and then prioritise them. Which is the most urgent in terms of time? The most urgent task will be tackled immediately and completed or worked on to the point where it can be delegated. The Eisenhower Matrix can help with this.   

Dealing with setbacks and change

If you want to change, you need to take your time, be patient and remain calm when things don't go as planned or when there are setbacks. After all, change means letting go of familiar ways of doing things, thinking and behaving and replacing them with something new. Acting courageously is not acting without fear but acting in spite of fear.

Concluding words

Clarity about your personal and professional goals, in addition to the orientation, prioritisation and implementation options already mentioned, helps you to question your value system and use it as a tool to guide your actions. You can become a reliable partner for your family and friends, your team members and partners, and gain their trust. Your goals serve as a reliable compass, but also help you to create and use freedom. What is necessary can be held on to, and what is unnecessary can be jettisoned. This is also true of your goals: If you find that something is no longer relevant or desirable over time, you can cross it off your list and create opportunities elsewhere.

Relevance of goal setting - The Author
Author: Dr. Roland Ottmann
Keywords: Project management, Goal setting, Self-management

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For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.