Backward Goal-Setting

Using Backward Planning to Set Goals

Backwards Goal-Setting

Another way to hit your target.

© iStockphoto

If your goal is to become an account director within the next five years, where do you start your planning process? Or if your team needs to redesign the company's organizational structure, where do you begin?

In planning, most of us would usually start building our plan from start to finish. What do you have to do first, second, third, and so on? And by what date does each step need to be completed?

This is a solid form of Personal Goal Setting   that works very well. When combined with the Golden Rules of Goal Setting  , you have a motivating formula that can help you actively move yourself forward.

A New Approach

However, there's another simple but lesser-used method of goal setting that can be equally as powerful.

It's called backward planning, backward goal-setting, or backward design, and it's used quite often in education and training. The idea is to start with your ultimate objective, your end goal, and then work backward from there to develop your plan. By starting at the end and looking back, you can mentally prepare yourself for success, map out the specific milestones you need to reach, and identify where in your plan you have to be particularly energetic or creative to achieve the desired results.

It's much like a good presentation, when the presenter tells you where he's headed right at the beginning. Then, as the presentation unfolds, it's easy for you to follow the concepts and think critically about what's being said. If you have to figure out the main points as they come, your energy is often used up by just trying to keep up.

The Backward Planning Process

Here's how it works:

Step 1: Write down...

... for the complete article:

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