Often we are so caught up in our day-to-day routine, we lose focus of our project goals. Three years ago, I began working at HealthInsight as the Admissions and Transitions Optimization Program (ATOP) director, fulfilling one of my professional ambitions to be part of health care policy decision making. Initially, you could not contain the excitement I had about the ATOP program and the development of an ironclad strategy with the help of my business associates motivated by the outcomes we hoped to achieve. Detailed steps were identified to achieve those outcomes. All was good until one day I discovered that some of the targeted goals for ATOP had not been reached. We had been successful, but could we have progressed more? Maybe we set our sights too high? Did we take the wrong path at the fork in the road? Then I had an epiphany. I needed to reflect, research, refocus and redirect.
It was time to take a pause and retrace my steps. It was time to REFLECT.As part of my reflection, I also reviewed the literature on "goal-setting". There are multiple reasons for not reaching your goals, whether they are work-minded or personal in nature. One of the first techniques I came across was the use of S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This term was familiar to me because I use this formula for setting annual employee goals. After reviewing the original ATOP program goals, I felt that all of these measures had been considered. Article after article about goal-setting revealed multiple reasons for not achieving goals: unrealistic expectations, conflicting goals, procrastination, too challenging, incorrect goals, too many goals and not reviewing progress. In the case of ATOP, the two reasons that stood out for me as potential culprits were "being too specific" and "not setting the correct goals".