Did the new year begin for you with a bundle of energy?
Did you get that look in your eyes that others get after they have taken time out – to think? The look of determination and excitement that comes from having a new sense of direction or from spending relaxed time thinking about the long term possibilities for your business?
For many the new year was a time to review where they are at in life – whether it be their personal, family or business lives. Many set new goals, and told themselves and others that, “This year is going to be a good year.” Maybe you got the opportunity to do some of this too. Maybe you set some new directions for the year and decided what you wanted to achieve. Great!
Then February comes followed by March and life gets busy again. The phone rings, emails start flowing in, and before you know it you’re swamped by endless paperwork and bills that need to be paid. What ever happened to the January fizz?
“I just don’t have the time to focus on my goals.”
If this is you, then you’re quite normal! You haven’t missed the boat. In fact according to a Forbes report only 8% of those who make new year resolutions actually achieve them! Yet way more than 8% of business owners do quite well in their businesses.
So how do busy people go about being effective in setting and achieving goals?
1. Keep them SMART
You’ve likely heard this well known acronym. S.M.A.R.T. It’s an excellent check for determining if your goals are likely to be effective. Here’s how it works.
If a goal is not specific then at best it indicates the direction you intend to move, but at worst, it may be just wishful thinking. E.g. The statement,
“I want to get more building jobs,”
may indicate a new vision for the company, or it could be a desperate hope. But a specific goal provides more clarity and direction to you and to your team.
E.g. “I will convert more of our renovation leads into sales and so increase the number of building jobs.”
When you add quantities you are making a goal about a result that can be measured. You can know exactly when you’ve hit it. Without a measurable indicator you will never know if you have achieved your goal or not. So the goal,
“I plan to earn more this year,”
could be achieved very easily or not at all, depending on the value you place on “more.” Including a measure to our example above our goal may become,
“I will convert 75% more leads into sales and so increase the number of building jobs.”
Achieving a goal requires that some actions be taken. So a smart goal will include a reference to the actions we will take. E.g. run, write, create, quit, start… In our example we may want to add some action words to smarten our goal. So it may become,
“I will create and implement a sales process to convert 75% more leads into sales and so increase the number of building jobs.”
A smart goal will stretch you and require you to develop in some areas. But you need to stay within the bounds of common sense. It’s good to go to the edge of your comfort zone and even step over. But if you step too far over your ability level, your goal will be unachievable – and that is demoralising. Being smart is learning to step just outside your comfort zone so you’ll be excited about the results. In our example, increasing your conversion rate by 75% sounds good, but is it possible? It may be if you intend to access some proven tools, but may not be if you have no new strategies to implement. So our smart goal might include some realism and become,
“By accessing XYZ training, I will create and implement a sales process to convert 50% more leads into sales and so increase the number of building jobs.”
Without a completion date a goal does not provide the impetus or the motivation to act now. In fact you could do nothing this week, or next, and still own the goal! However, a smart goal has a date reference that motivates to action now. So in our example our goal could be,
“By accessing XYZ training this quarter, I will create and implement a sales process to convert 50% more leads into sales by the end of this financial year and so increase the number of building jobs.”
2. Focus on Fewer Goals
Productivity studies show that we can’t focus on more than 5 – 7 things at once. Having lots of goals looks impressive, but is unlikely to lead to multiple successes. Better to keep to a handful of goals – no more than you are able to commit to memory. And, don’t cheat by writing countless sub-goals under each goal. This is a recipe for failure. Instead, write just a few SMART goals and review and amend them each quarter.
3. Achieving Your Goals
Some people think that when you write down your goals you improve your chances of success. Writing forces you to create better goals, especially when you use the SMART check.
But in my experience it is not the writing down that bring the success. Rather its the doing of the goals – that brings success. Reviewing your goals frequently and planning your weekly task lists with your goals in mind, almost certainly guarantees success, or at least significant progress. The key is to let your goals inspire your actions.
4. Share Your Goals
It can also be beneficial to share your goals with a select few – but only with those who will encourage. Avoid the naysayers.
What’s been your experience with goal setting? Do you have any SMART goals?