Un-Stink Your Goals! Enjoy the Sweet Smell of Success.

Have you started moaning yet? It’s time to write your next year’s performance goals. We don’t want to do it, mostly because we think they stink. 

Goals are your scorecard. 

When we play games, we keep score because we want to know how we did. That’s part of the fun. 

Organizations pay us to play for them. There’s a lot at stake, so we often feel uneasy about how well we’ll score. 

That’s because we don’t know: 

  • what we’re really expected to achieve
  • how we’re being measured 

The good news is that we can fix this.

Set yourself up to win! 

Goals have to be written or you and your boss will keep revising them in your heads until they fit whatever you’ve done or not done. This can set you up for a big goose egg. 

Goals have to state what you’re accountable for delivering. Yes, this is about getting stuff done that you can measure and/or see. No smoke…no mirrors. 

Goals need to cover work  beyond your job routines. They are about stretching, differentiating, and setting you up for growth. 

Goals need to demonstrate that you “get” the business that you’re in and the impact that you’re positioned to make. 

Write them right. 

You should know, all year long, how you’re doing on your goals by the way they’re written. You can only do that if your goal statements are measurable and/or observable. Try to write at least one for every business category you impact. 

Here are examples of “sweet” year-end goals you’d want compared to “stinky” ones you don’t: 


  • Sweet—Reduce administrative expenses by 15%
  • Stinky—Improve cash flow and reduce expenses 


  • Sweet—Reduce cycle time to bring new products to market by 60 days
  • Stinky—Process paperless claims promptly and effectively 


  • Sweet—Achieve an average rating of “very good” on the annual customer satisfaction survey
  • Stinky—Ensure satisfied investors 


  • Sweet—Increase employee availability by 5%
  • Stinky—Improve employee morale

 Sometimes we have jobs or assignments where we rely on others to deliver on the goal’s we’re accountable for. In those situations, our goal statement might be: 

  • Sweet—Provide leadership to ensure the successful testing and implementation of the new human resources compensation system on budget by Jun 30, 20__
  • Stinky—Implement a compensation management system in HR 

Make it a game with yourself! 

I write personal business goals every year that keep me focused and track my progress. Last year my stretch goals were on social media, an area where I was a bumbling neophyte. 

My goal was to: Increase visibility on social media to build my network by: 

  • Writing a minimum of 104 blog posts –exceeded
  • Attaining a minimum of 600 career/business Twitter followers—exceeded
  • Increasing my fan pages “likes” to 200 each—exceeded
  • Increasing my Linkedin followers to 250—exceeded
  • Utilizing video to share information—not attained
  • Learning about podcasting—not attained   

Since I had no idea about social media’s power, the subgoals, which were exceeded, really aren’t where I now know I can take them, so I’ll ratchet them up for 2011. 

For two subgoals,  I didn’t deliver at all. (See what happens when you don’t create a metric for scorekeeping!) I’ll need to decide if I want to carry those goals over to 2011 and, if so, make a “scorable” commitment. 

If I hadn’t written these goals down, I’d have no real basis for assessing my progress or goals for moving forward. 

Empower yourself 

Your goals are one way to take control of your career. If your boss suggests stinky goals statements, offer to rewrite sweet ones so you both can keep score. It will set you apart and demonstrate your willingness to be accountable, a real career differentiator that will never fail you. So now, you’re up. Swing for the seats! 

What have been your experiences with goal-setting? Any tips to add? Thanks.

8 thoughts on “Un-Stink Your Goals! Enjoy the Sweet Smell of Success.

  1. It was valuable to see both the stinky goals and the good goals compared. Even though most people know our goals are supposed to be measureable, I’m not sure they are always clear on what that means for them or they think they can measure the stinky ones.

    Also, the goals that are the most relevant for me are the ones you put for yourself, since I too work on my own. Once again, I need to get more specific with my 2011 ones. Both darn and thanks.

    • Goal-setting for solopreneurs is a real challenge since no one is holding us accountable but us…and maybe the taxman! It’s even more difficult when trying to break new ground, not knowing how much time and money it will take. Flying blind can be scary. That’s why putting together goals that keep us counting, tracking, and meeting deadlines is the way to go. I even have professional growth goals, specifically around reading (a minimum of 30 books per year/ half fiction and half non-fiction and/or business) to keep myself current. Our goals help us see the highs and lows for what they really are during the year and can redirect us when we get off track. Glad a peek at my goals gave you some ideas! ~Dawn

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    • I followed the leads that Linkedin provided based on people I was already connected to. Where there were bloggers I followed and commented on who promoted Linkedin pages, I asked to be connected there. The same was true with Twitter. I also joined and participated in some LI groups, linking to people with whom I’d had conversations. I did not go out on a campaign to collect LI connections. I wanted to be sure there was a relationship there that had reasonable substance.

      I hope this is helpful, Christina. Thanks for asking. ~Dawn

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