The most important thing about goals is having one.
-Geoffrey F. Abert
Goals are what keep us moving forward – in our lives, in our businesses. Without goals, we usually manage to do only what we have been doing, and often in a scattered manner, wondering at the end of the day where the day has gone and what we have accomplished.
Without clear, doable goals, our businesses and our lives may flounder or stall.
Visions of where we want to go in life and in business provide us with the carrot at the end of the stick; and having specific goals tells us how we are going to get a grip on that carrot. Goals provide the step-by-step instructions on how to achieve our vision.
Having an idea in your head or a vision of where you want to take your business (or life) may keep you happy, but is more likely to keep you dreaming rather than actually doing.
Putting your vision down on paper in real terms, will grab your subconscious attention in a way that leaving it in your head cannot do. Putting it to paper begins a process of making your dream more real, tangible – and doable.
The best goal is a written goal.
Putting it in writing activates that part of your brain needed to kick start the tangible plans needed to achieve your vision. Learning to write good goals will help you get done what you need to do, in a time frame that will give you the best advantage in the long run – if you set the right goal.
Ensure that each goal you set is aimed at the right target in a way that is actually going to get you where you want to go. Unwritten, you have no history. Unwritten, you may also have only a vague impression of accomplishment, not a clear picture.
Exercise/Plan of Action:
Contract with yourself to set aside a half-hour each day for one week, (make it the same time each day) to develop a written vision of your business (or life) and to write down a few goals in specific terms, to accomplish every day for the next three weeks that will move you towards your vision – whatever it is. What you do to achieve those goals and smaller goals ‘objectives’ is what you have heard referred to as ‘strategy’.
Make the contract with yourself that you will achieve that goal regardless of what else happens. Stick to it.
Part of the challenge here is making a contract with yourself and sticking to it.
Make it a doable goal, wholly or partially achievable in one day, practical in that it will get something you want to do, done. If it is only partially achievable, set out some smaller goals (called objectives), small steps to achieving the larger goal.
Tangible and measurable: Any goal you set should be one that will get something tangible done. It may have been on your mental to do list for a long time, weighing you down, or it may be the start of something new.
At the end of every day, spend just five minutes or more on going back and writing down what you accomplished, and how you know or can tell it was accomplished; or simply tick off items on the list. This is part of giving you a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment. Important, as it feeds the desire to move forward again. It gives you the energy to continue.
Analyze whether that goal was a worthwhile goal: did it bring you closer in some small (or big) way towards your vision of how your life or business should be?
To anchor the learning or the sense of accomplishment, write down how it felt to start working on the goal and how it felt to achieve it. Identify what difference achieving that goal made to you or your business. Then think about your goal for the next day and what you might do differently in the writing of your next goal.
Create a habit: Get into the habit of setting at least one clear goal a day. Start each day by working on that goal or strategizing how you are going to achieve that goal, and eventually, your brain will begin to make goal setting easier. Finding the focus to accomplish the goal will also become easier. You will find that at the end of the day, even if you have only managed to accomplish this one thing, you will feel more satisfied with yourself. You will also find that at the end of a week, you may well have accomplished much.
Once you have created the habit of setting and accomplishing a goal a day, you can begin to add a few more. Stick to the plan to complete each goal.
Do not allow yourself to become distracted from your vision and goals.
The trick is to engage you in the process. Goal writing takes practice and perseverance. Don’t worry if what you write down is not perfectly worded; just make sure that it is actually going to accomplish something that will get you closer to your vision – that is, where you want to go or be.