Coming up with your goals is the easy part. Achieving success is not in the setting of goals but in the execution of your strategies. Part of that execution is defining a measurement.
Measuring progress is the quintessential element to an execution strategy and goal achievement. If you cannot measure your progress, you will be unable to determine if you are on the correct pathway. If you cannot quantify progress, you cannot identify additional opportunities or make mid-stream adjustments. Measurement is a mathematical representation of the qualities of an action. Basically, measurement allows you to quantify the quality of your actions. Quantifiable representations are often found in your objectives, which are established as part of your execution strategy. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to be able to create a mathematical representation of your goal.
To illustrate how to quantify the quality of your actions I will provide two examples. The first one will be a physical fitness goal and the second a financial goal. The scenario I will use for the physical fitness goal is that you have decided that you would like to adopt healthier behaviors in 2013. You might write the goal as follows.
Goal: Improve my cardio-vascular conditioning by walking each day, increasing the duration and distance by the end of the year to attain a result of 2 miles in 40 minutes. Passive Measure: By the end of the year I will be walking 2 miles in 40 minutes every day. Active Measure: Walk 2 miles a day at a speed of 3 miles per hour .
The active measure is developed by the mathematical representation you will need in order to achieve your goal. To create the measurement required to calculate this goal you will need three items. A good pair of walking shoes, a stop watch, and a pedometer. Although the mathematical calculation appears to be complicated it is actually simple algebra. The first piece of information required is the average step distance. This will vary for each individual. This measurement is gained by measuring your average step from the heal of your trailing foot to the heal of your leading foot.
For instance my measured step distance is 22 inches. Based on that measurement you can then calculate how many steps it would take you to walk a mile. For me that measurement is 2,880 steps. Since the goal is to walk 2 miles then I would double that measurement to 5760 steps and that should take me about 2 miles. Using Excel, I could capture my actual number of steps and the time required to walk those steps and determine if I have met my goal. In a table it would appear as follows:
Walking Statistics Morning Evening Total Miles Minutes Speed (mph) 2200 2205 4405 1.53 40 2.29
The use of a pedometer will allow you to count the number of steps you have taken. To calculate the duration of your activity you simply use the stopwatch. You can document your numbers in an Excel spreadsheet, which allows you to track a years worth of activity. You can get as complicated as you desire. However the goal is not to become a math major, it is to capture a mathematical representation of your activity.
This active measurement is predictive since walking 2 miles in 40 minutes everyday will allow you to achieve your goal of improving your cardio-vascular conditioning. It is also influenceable because you can decide to do this activity everyday. Tracking these numbers allows you to make decisions about increasing the distance or the speed to improve the results of your goal attainment.
Moving on to the financial goal, let’s assume the following. You have set a goal to build wealth in 2013. To do this you must create a consistent mathematical model for tracking your progress. If your target is to increase wealth by 13.8 percent by December 31, 2013 (the SMART goal) then you can create a table that documents progressive growth each month, based on the collective value of your financial accounts.
You could document the value of your 401k, Roth IRA’s, Traditional IRAs, and any number of other financially related savings and investment accounts. If you set a goal to grow the overall value of your accounts by 13.8 percent, then you need to represent that goal by a monthly growth of 1.15 percent. Remember, you are looking to increase the overall value of all accounts. Therefore, you would establish a model of organic and inorganic growth. Organic growth is simply growth that happens through the investment product itself. Dividend paying stocks add value through two types of organic growth; market value and dividends.
Inorganic growth is the increase in value through external influences, otherwise known as deposits made into the accounts. When you contribute to your 401k and your company matches those contributions, it is considered inorganic growth because it is not within the growth nature of the investment product itself. Ideally you want to have a larger amount of organic growth. However, when you first begin to save and invest the value of your accounts will be primarily inorganic. The objectives set as part of your execution strategy should look similar to the following example.
Goal: Increase the collective value of all savings and investment accounts by 13.8% by December 31, 2013. Passive Measure: On December 31, 2013 the collective value of all savings and investment accounts will have met or exceeded the 13.8% threshold. Active Measure: Contribute 6% of gross income towards the company sponsored 401k with 75% match. All contributions will be equally distributed between the Mid-Cap Growth Fund and the Aggressive Growth Fund. Active Measure: Contribute at least 15% of gross income into a taxable investment account. Active Measure: Invest existing and future assets in mutual funds with “life of fund” returns exceeding 12% or a variety of dividend paying common stocks, preferred stocks CEF’s and ETF’s
The SMART Goal process follows the Dr. Covey model of “X” to “Y” by “WHEN”. “X” is where you currently exist or, better stated, is the dynamics of your current situation. “Y” is the end point or, better stated, your desired future state. And “WHEN” establishes the finish line. In this example, the current situation is implied. The active measures become the executable elements of your objectives. Each objective should have measurable elements and a scorecard to track your progress to achievement.
In order to translate the written objectives into a mathematical representation of achievement, you have to create a scorecard. Just as the scorecard for the physical fitness goal was developed, this scorecard allows you to quantify the quality of your actions. If your objectives, your active measures, are correctly executed, then you should see the mathematical representation of your objectives move towards the achievement of your goal. Using Excel will allow you to create both a table for tracking your metrics and a visual representation of your progress in the form of a chart. Below is a table that measures the percentage of growth for the aforementioned goal.
January February March April May October November December Actual -1.66% 0.23% 3.28% 4.99% 6.85% 9.15% 11.54% 15.48% Target 1.15% 2.30% 3.45% 4.60% 5.75% 11.50% 12.65% 13.80%
The table that captures the metrics of your execution translates into the chart shown in this blog for a visual representation of your goal achievement. Using this table / chart type of scorecard allows you to quickly identify if and when adjustments need to be made throughout the execution process. If you do not have measurements that mathematically gage your progress, you have less ability to know if you are on track.
As 2013 quickly approaches, you should start thinking about not just what you would like to accomplish, but also how you are going to accomplish it. I offer financial mentoring as one way to teach those who want to know more about establishing goals and developing execution strategies. The key to any strategy is to first have one, followed closely by the ability to execute it. If you would like me to speak to your small group about goals, objectives, and strategies please visit http://kenrupert.com/contact.html and let me know how I can help you.