Last weekend I took my wife and two of my children to see the show South Pacific. It was a wonderful experience for my younger daughters. They enjoyed the beautiful costumes and stage setting.
One of the songs had a stanza that caught my attention. It went like this:
You have to have a goal,
Because if you don’t have a goal,
How is your goal going to come true?
Wow, very profound. When I coach clients one of the things we talk about is their personal and professional goals. I find that most people’s goals are vague and ambiguous. Individuals may think they have goals, but what they really have are wishes and wants. There is a big difference between well thought out goals and a thrown together wish list.
You should have specific goals in both your personal and professional life. These goals should drive your thoughts and your actions. What you think about you become. What you do today leads you to your results tomorrow. Goals don’t just happen. We must take accountability and be responsible for both setting and managing our goals.
Think about these five things when you put your goals together:
1. Define Your Values
Before you can look at your goals, it is critical to understand your values. Your values are like the foundation of your home. If you build a house on a solid foundation it can stand for decades, if not centuries. If you understand your values and your goals are true to those values, then you have a greater chance of achieving them.
If your goals do not align themselves with your values, then the lack of truth that they initiate will keep you from achieving them. That would be a terrible waste of time.
If you value strong customer relationships, then a goal to increase sales will naturally sit solidly on top of that foundation. If your base is in sand then your house will sink.
2. State Your Goals
So what are your goals? State them out loud. Think about all of the different aspects of your business, and then go back and do the same thing for your personal life.
Many times people achieve their goals only to find out that they really don’t have what they desire. They err in choosing the wrong item to measure or maximize. It is not only important to set goals but to set goals that are measurable and relate to what you really want to achieve.
I often work with people who say they want to double sales. Doubling sales is fine, but what about the bottom-line? If you only look at sales, you may be overlooking other elements of your business that lead to losses. I can drive the sales of any company through the roof, but if you are not able to maintain profits, then what good is it?
In business we all look at sales, but I want you to also look at net profit. Look at setting goals around client retention, new clients, closing ratio, customer satisfaction index, employee satisfaction index, inventory turnover, new product development, and other critical core business functions that impact your business.
Be very specific with your goals. It’s not enough to say, “I want to retire early.” What is early? What age? How much passive income will you need? Where will you live? What will you do with your time? What will it look and feel like?
When you are very specific with your goals you create a clear target. Clearly defined targets are much easier to hit!
Dig deep and find the core elements of your business that really drive both sales and the bottom line. Then, set goals around these elements.
3. Write Your Goals Down
A goal that isn’t written on paper is a wish. It’s tough to make it come true. If you really want to achieve your goals, it is important that you put all of them in writing.
All of my children have journals. Each year on their birthday we go out to breakfast. Together we look at the goals that they had set the prior year and evaluate the progress that they’ve made. Then I challenge them to create goals for the upcoming year.
One day I noticed that my oldest daughter, Sara, was looking all over the house for something. I asked what it was she was missing. Sara told me that she was missing a key to her diary.
Later that day I saw Sara curled up in her favorite chair writing in her diary. I asked Sara how she found the key so quickly. Sara told me, “I wrote in my journal that I wanted to find my key. If I write something in my journal it always comes true!”
I was amazed! Sara learned very early on that goals should be written. When you write your goals down, you are committing yourself to them. They become real, and you feel responsible for their completion.
4. Give Yourself Time Guidelines
When you set your goals look at the calendar. Give yourself some time guidelines. I call them guidelines because it is difficult to know exactly how long it will take to achieve some of your goals.
Looking at dates will help you clear your thinking. You will gain a sense of urgency, and you will begin looking for ways to achieve your goals. Having a deadline or a time goal can help motivate you to take action and move you forward.
But, a timeline isn’t the bottom line determination of your success. I don’t want time to determine if you succeed or fail. I don’t believe you have failed unless you quit. Success sometimes just takes a little more time.
5. Access Your Progress
As you pursue your goals, be sure and take time to access your progress. Are you moving forward? Is something holding you back? Is there additional education that you need in order to achieve your goals?
By assessing your progress you can see if you are moving forward appropriately, or decide if you need to make course adjustments.
Some days it will seem that you are moving full speed ahead. Other days you will feel like every step you take forward, you take two steps back.
I once had lunch with a successful business man. I asked him what was the key to his success. He said, “I do the right things consistently.” He had analyzed his business and figured out what he needed to do on a regular basis in order to be the best he could.
If you are doing the “right things” consistently, monitoring your progress, and making course corrections when necessary, then you will move towards the completion of your goals.
Goal setting is critical for building your business and your life. Spend the time to fully understand and define your values. Then, set out to write down a well-defined set of goals. You are now being accountable for your goals and you’re on the way to Building a Better Biz!