My wife and I were recently on a cycling vacation in Tucson, Arizona with friends. One of the suggested rides at the local bike store was tackling the ascent of Mount Lemmon. This sounded like a challenge but one worthy of pursuit. We decided that our goal would be to ride halfway to the summit. This represented an elevation change of about 3000 feet over a distance of approximately 12 miles (20 km).
I couldn’t help but think that this cycling goal was no different than any goal that we would set for ourselves in our respective business lives. Goals need to follow the SMART acronym in order to pass muster. That is they need to be: Specific; Measureable; Aligned with one’s values; Realistic; and Time based. A twelve mile ride up a constant 5-6% grade met these requirements.
The higher we climbed, the more I realized the value of setting sub-goals. In other words, some goals should be pursued by completing discrete steps along the way. You’ve probably heard the description of eating an elephant – one bite at a time. One of the benefits of this approach is that it allows us to focus on the steps that are immediately ahead of us. We are able to see progress towards the ultimate goal as we achieve the milestones along the way. During our ride, I found that many of my sub-goals were simply reaching the next road marker, bush or outcrop of rock.
The ride objective was achieved and the ride downhill was our reward for the uphill journey. Goal achievement is an extremely satisfying result that accrues from the goal setting process.