As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we are actively looking to disrupt the status quo and develop the field of long-term care into the efficient, innovative agent of health service it was meant to be. We do this by setting for ourselves, and helping others set, well-constructed goals that work to improve weaknesses and capitalize on strengths.
Oftentimes, we find that the organizations and individuals we begin working with have been making and “achieving” goals for a long time. However, these goals are either poorly created, poorly defined, or don’t serve the areas they intend to improve in. Correcting these bad goal-making habits first requires the ability to distinguish between goals and tasks, and between strategic and tactical goals.
Tasks are the activities in your organization or personal life that describe your baseline; the checklists that you will very likely accomplish without radically changing your routine or existing plans. Goals are rather focused on getting you past the baseline and on track to achieve your long-term vision. This means doing things out of your comfort zone on a consistent basis to reach a new and improved baseline.
The two broad types of goals are strategic and tactical, and both need to be in place before progress can be made. A vision someone wants to achieve can be broken down into strategic goals—the necessary components of the realized vision. Tactical goals put those macro-level strategic goals in the context of time, identifying the actions steps needed to get there. As was helpfully distilled for me: strategic goals mean doing the right things, tactical goals mean doing things right.
Here’s an example we’ll continue to use throughout this series: a nurse in hospice care envisions themselves in the future as the administrator of their own hospice center. One crucial strategic goal for this vision would be pursing higher education in the field of elder care. Their tactical goal within that then might be completing an MHA in Gerontology in the next 5 years from University A, B or C.
You may be familiar with the method of S.M.A.R.T. goals originated in the 80s by George Doran and used in personal and professional development programs. This acronym stands Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound—the attributes of a well formulated goal. We’ve adapted this method and added our own set of necessary attributes that are missing from the original list, assuring a repeatable, manageable system goals making. Next time, we’ll dive in the A.R.T. of S.M.A.R.T.