Alternatives to Traditional Goal Setting

One Word Themes, Vision Boards, Sprint Goals, and More

an inspirational message written on a chalkboard
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Not everyone likes setting business goals, or even personal goals for that matter. The goal setting process can be challenging because it requires a lot of planning, strategizing and, often, blind faith that things will fall into place once you get started.

In fact, many people turn away from setting traditional goals because the process can be so overwhelming and inflexible. The goods news is that even if traditional goal setting is not right for you, there are alternatives that can help you create a new focus and intention in your business for the coming year. Here are some alternatives to consider.

One Word Themes

Can one word change your life and business for the better? Many people say yes. Simplifying by choosing one word to become your theme for the year eliminates the pressure and time required to develop a traditional goal and can be easier to stick with all year long. This tactic helps you avoid falling into "analysis paralysis" that comes from being overwhelmed with a traditional goal setting process. Read more about one-word goal setting.

Vision Boards

A vision board is a tool that can help you clarify and focus on what you want to accomplish without being crowded by a lot of words. You can choose imagery to create a board that has meaning for you and helps you stay on track during the year.

Backward Goal Setting

Backward goal setting involves starting with a big-picture end goal and working backward to create a weekly or even daily task list that gets you closer to your end goal, little by little. It can be effective because each action is focused on, and directly impacts, the desired end result.

Agile SMART Goals

According to Ariane Benefit, Agile SMART goals are based on traditional goals, but they convert a SMART goal from one that is rigid into one that is more flexible, customizable and adjustable. While Agile SMART goals can work for everyone, they are especially well-suited to creative types.

Sprint Goals

Sprints are a key component in scrums, which are the framework that brings together complex business processes (you can read more about this in the Scrum Guide). A sprint is a period of time, usually a month, that is hyper-focused on completing one activity. This idea can be modified for goal setting by creating a series of short-term sprint goals that you can complete one-by-one.

BHAG Goals

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, an idea conceptualized in the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by James Collins and Jerry Porras. BHAGs are bigger, bolder and more powerful than traditional goals, and typically take a 10- to 30-year commitment. Instead of creating a structured goal, this method focuses on creating one overarching driving force that you can commit to for the long term.

If you prefer to go the conventional route, you can start with these goal setting tips, formulating SMART goals or by downloading one of these goal setting apps. You can also choose to stick with New Year's resolutions. Remember that goal setting can be a very individual process, and it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Take your time and explore all of the options available.