Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.
It is January 1st, and you are up early with your new running shoes, your headphones on with some heart-pumping music, and you are killing it on that treadmill. Now is the time, this is the year that we reach the goal of losing those pesky extra 20 pounds, and we sign up for that marathon.
One week later, still going strong… we got this. It’s mid-February, and all those chocolate commercials and the “just one dessert won’t hurt, just this once I will sleep past my alarm. I have this under control” conversation with your self is bouncing around in your head. Now it’s March, and you have “misplaced” your new running shoes, somewhere under a heap of clothes is your treadmill, and the gym front desk hasn’t seen you in weeks. All you can think is, “how did I get off track so fast?? I had a GOAL!! I really wanted this!”
Having a goal is GOOD; a plan is BETTER; a SPECIFIC PLAN is BEST. Let’s look at the difference between the three options.
Can you see the difference??
Here at Reach Reporting, we love to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting program. It was created back in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. Many businesses use this model when it is time to set new goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. The idea is to set realistic yet lofty goals with your client. Set goals that are specific and trackable. Goals that move you (or your business) across the bridge from where you are to where you want to be eventually. Build that bridge with guideposts of smaller goals, specific to-do items, and high fives after achievements. Let’s get into the details of each step.
Setting vague and unambiguous goals is pointless. The creators of Goal Setting Theory, Locke & Latham, discovered that 90% of the time goals that are both specific and challenging lead to higher performance than not setting goals or setting “do your best” type goals. That is a staggering percentage! We learn from this that the simple “loss some weight” or “eat better” goals have only a 10% chance of being achieved. We want and need higher numbers than this. Take a moment and sit down and spend some time figuring out EXACTLY what financial goals you want to achieve. Be specific. Specific objectives are easier to set in motion and are easier to measure. This leads us to our next step.
Have you ever seen one of those thermometers people use when doing a fundraiser? It shows the money raised so far and how close (or far away) they are from their goal.
Now that is a measurable goal! We know exactly what the final goal is, how much longer to reach the goal, and precisely where we are right now. Keep this image in mind when setting a goal. Your goal needs to be able to be measured. Now all goals are not as easily tracked as raising money, so be creative in how you can measure it. It keeps you motivated and staying on track. And most importantly, reward yourself when you have done it! It can be as simple as a pat on the back, those new shoes you have been eyeing, or a day off. Whatever is important to you!
While reaching for the stars and setting a challenging goal is the key to success, there is a place for keeping it real. No one is going to lose 50 pounds before their high school reunion next week. Just ain’t going to happen. Search for the happy medium between the vague “Do better at saving money” and unrealistic “I refuse to buy anything unnecessary.” Setting a goal that is unattainable only leads to discouragement and then giving up on the whole thing.
Not all goals are created equal. When setting a goal, take a moment, and make sure it leads you in the direction you desire your life or business to go. Just because Stacey has set a goal to increase business by 12% before years end doesn’t mean that it should be your goal, that is a worthy goal she has for her business. What is an admirable goal for YOUR business, for YOUR finances, for your ultimate life plan? Achieving a smaller goal that doesn’t lead you in the direction you want to head doesn’t accomplish anything. Keep the big picture in mind when setting your goals to get there.
Goals need a time frame—an end date. Setting an end date too far in the future for a small, easily accomplished goal is counterproductive. It creates a climate of being laissez-faire and being unproductive. The opposite is also detrimental; setting a short term time frame for a complex goal leads to stress, tears on occasion, and then tossing it all out the window. Be sure to set a realistic time frame, one that will keep you motivated but not burnt out.
Making it Happen
Next time you sit down at your desk and are looking to improve your business by setting some goals, whether financial or not, keep this model in mind. Think about possibly adding some additional tools to help you along the way.
- Keep a goal journal. Write down what you have done, the results. What worked and what didn’t work.
- Tell someone else your goal. Having a cheering squad can do wonders for keeping you motivated! Maybe a family member, a co-worker, or a friend.
- Put it on your phone. Set your wallpaper to remind you. Put reminders on your calendar. We look at our phones regularly (for better or worse), and that reminder could be that one thing you need to stay motivated and focused on your goal.
- If your goal is getting your finances in order, think about using Reach Reporting. It was created to keep you in the loop in regards to your business finances. It simplifies all that data, so you REALLY know the story of your finances. With that kind of information, reaching financial goals just got that much easier.
Remember to be SMART while setting goals, and the sky’s the limit!!