Setting Goals: 5 Tips for Your Clinical Research Site and Beyond

Dawn Burke
December 18th, 2014

With the New Year upon us, it’s always a great time to assess past goals and create new ones.  It goes without saying that having goals is important in shaping your future.  They can increase motivation and ensure you’re on the right track.

How many of us actually stick to our goals though?  While goal setting might sound easy enough to some, it can be quite challenging to quantify them, develop an action plan and follow through to completion.  Luckily, there are ways to make it easier and help ensure success.  Follow the tips below for better goal setting your research site.

Make it a regular event.

Goal setting should not be done and reviewed just once a year.  Rather, set up at least quarterly check-ins to assess progress and adjust goals as needed.  Meet more frequently if the deadline for the goal is shorter or has more components to it.  By revisiting the goals often, they stay top of mind and are more likely to be achieved.

Make them specific.

It’s easy to say, “Lets increase recruitment,” but if you don’t have it broken down into smaller actionable goals, it will be tough to accomplish such a high level target.  Start with a specific, quantifiable end goal in mind, and then set “mini-goals” as to how you will actually accomplish that.

Make your goals public.

Well, maybe not “public” to the world, but let them be known among your colleagues.  Doing so will require you to fully commit to the goals since you will be held accountable for the outcomes.  Additionally, it will be easier to get others involved and help delegate tasks, if necessary, since they’ll already know the goal/plan.

Set a deadline.

This is perhaps the cardinal rule of goal setting.  If you don’t set a deadline, you immediately set yourself up for failure.  Establish your commitment and dedication by picking a reasonable date – something that’s not unattainable, but also not so far out that priorities continually get pushed back.

Reward successes.

Whether your reward comes when the goal is achieved or you celebrate milestones along the way, make sure to spend at least a little time enjoying the success of your accomplishments.  If rewards aren’t planned as part of your goal planning, it is likely that your next goal planning session will be considerably less motivating.