Measure Your Performance: How Goal Setting Pays Off

Secret tips on how goal setting will really pay off

Hard Work Does Pay Off

My Uncle Martin may have been a farmer, but he knew more about managing for performance than a lot of the corporate executives I’ve met in life.

Everybody got paid for what they picked. To make sure he got the best performance out of each one of us, Uncle Martin would give everybody a goal based on what we were capable of. The little kids might get a goal of twenty-five pounds, while the biggest guys would get a goal of 200 pounds. At the end of the day, if you picked your goal you would get an ice cold RC Cola and a MoonPie. If you’ve never had either of these fantastic refreshments, I suggest you go out and find them now.

Let me tell you, after a hot day in the sun in South Georgia, it was a bonus worth fighting for. If you didn’t hit your goal, you had to sit in the back of the truck and watch everybody else enjoy their treats. Toward the end of the day, people would come in to have their bags weighed. You’d know if anyone came up short, because they would immediately grab their bags and run out to the field to get those last few pounds picked. There was no way they were going to miss out on their RC Cola and MoonPie. Uncle Martin knew how to motivate.

If you don’t measure yourself, it’s easy to fall short of your full potential. You’ll just keep doing the same thing over and over, without making real progress. When you have a goal that’s just a bit beyond your reach or past performance, you push yourself just a bit harder. That’s how you improve. On the other hand, activity or practice without a serious effort to improve will result in no improvement at all.

If you don’t measure yourself, it’s easy to fall short of your full potential. Click To Tweet

Measurement Helps Us Focus

If you can believe it, until the 1980s, most people, including scientists, thought that excellence was primarily a result of genetics. There’s a long history of belief in the myth of natural talent.

The idea “practice makes perfect” has been around for hundreds of years. However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, researchers began to prove that “the effect of practice on performance is larger than earlier believed possible.”  Um . . . duh! The real breakthrough showed not just any practice was enough. Only deliberate practice—practice that is specifically focused on improvement, not just going through the motions—leads to growth.

And having a way to measure your performance or progress is a key component of that type of practice.

You need a goal that requires focused effort, because it’s slightly beyond your capabilities. You need immediate or quick feedback on how you’re performing related to that goal. Researchers show that these pieces are critical for maintaining your motivation when you’re trying to improve. Good things don’t come out of halfhearted actions.

Good things don’t come out of halfhearted actions. Click To Tweet

High Performance is Critical

As we improve, we’re more likely to achieve a ‘state of flow’ in some of our activities and work. Flow was first described by psychologist, Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi, and his team of researchers. It’s another word for “the zone”. We enter it when we become so engrossed in an activity that it consumes every bit of our attention. The research found that people who regularly achieve flow are happier and more content in life. It’s also a state critical for high performance. What are the necessary conditions? You need a clear set of goals, a way to get regular and immediate feedback on your progress. Perception that the goal is a challenge, but still within your abilities, is also essential.

Set goals for your improvement. Give yourself a standard of measurement, then watch how fast you surpass it!

Set goals for your improvement. Give yourself a standard of measurement. Click To Tweet

This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, Serial Winner. If you’re a fan of the book, please leave me a review on Amazon! To learn more and get a copy of your own, click here!

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