by John Ingrisano
It’s that time … time to set goals. Start thinking about where you want to be by the end of 2012.
Are goals important? In business, they’re everything. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there … or, well, you get the picture. More to the point, you’ll just wander around, stumbling along, drifting from one day’s pressing moment to another, putting out fires and getting nowhere.
As a friend once said: “I’m not sure where we’re going, but we’re making darn good time.” Without goals, if you do achieve anything of value, it will be by chance, pure luck. Most of all, you can end up putting out a lot of time and effort for very little return. A very inefficient way to do business.
Goals give us focus. More to the point, they enable us to concentrate our energy and resources on the things that matter and not let us become distracted by the thing that don’t. I know people who have three or four key goals. That’s all they need. However, those goals give them direction for what they will be doing every day.
Goals expand our limits. Without goals, we can usually do the work of mortals. With goals, we can expand and grow, reach beyond our capabilities. (Yes, imagine that: beyond our capabilities!) You can establish new boundaries, set records, achieve great things. When I’m really on task, I can do the work of three people. Nobody ever went beyond his or her average, every-day limits without a goal to do so.
How to set goals you can achieve:
- Decide what you want. Take your time. Better yet, take a few days away from the office/work just to ponder what you really want to achieve in 2012.
- Keep the list short. In fact, the fewer goals the better. You do not need a two- or three-page list. That can become distracting in itself. Instead, imagine having just one or two rock-solid goals. For example, how about this one? “I will unlock the secret of seminar sales and become one of the top ten trainers in my organization by December 31, 2012.” Imagine concentrating all your efforts on that one goal. Can’t lose.
- Make them yours … not your spouse’s, not your father’s, not what you think someone else wants of you. If you answer to boss, work out your goals together. Do not just sit back and have the boss tell you your goals. That will not work. They must be yours. What do YOU want to achieve in 2012? I once decided that I should have a goal of becoming a multi-millionaire within two years. It never felt right, and, as it turned out, it was the longest, most miserable two weeks of my life. No, I did not achieve my goal in two weeks. It took me two weeks to realize that the goal of money was not what I wanted. It did not motivate me. I realized that I wanted the things money could buy, not the money itself. So, I retooled my goals.
- Make them lofty, so you have to stretch a bit, but not so high that there is no way you can achieve them. Challenge yourself; make yourself break a sweat. Remember that goal above about becoming “one of the top ten trainers”? Well, why not shoot for the Number One spot? Again, why not? Somebody has to be there. Why not you?
- Make them specific. The more specific, the better. A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Get in shape by joining a health club and working out 3 days a week, and losing 20 pounds within two months.”
- Make them measurable. They need to have numbers, as in: “I will make three sales a week” or “I will increase my gross sales by 15% by the end of 2012.” If your goal is just to “increase sales,” well, good luck; that is not measurable.
- Make them attainable. In other words, they must be realistic. No, this is not a contradiction of the fourth goal above, which is to make your goals lofty. But they must be realistic. For example, if you are a soft blob today, a lofty but realistic goal may be to run a marathon by the end of next year. (My brother did in it three months, though the first one nearly killed him.) However, the goal of winning a marathon, of taking the number one spot, may be too much for one year. Save that one for year two or three. The problem with setting goals that are pie-in-the sky impossible is that they are in fact self-destructive. Not only will they be almost impossible to achieve, but they will discourage you from trying.
- Make them timely. Do not set a goal that takes 40 years to achieve. Set goals that can be met within 12 or 24 months. I like to have three levels of goals: short (30 days), mid-range (30 days to six months), and annual goals (achievable by the end of a year). I also have long-range goals, such as retirement by age 65, but these are outgrowths of smaller, shorter goals. The point is that they must be timely. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure. This also anchors them within a timeframe.
- Translate your goals into daily activities. Break up your goals into bite-size pieces. Example: Let’s say I want to become a top trainer. That may mean, as one activity, that I need to observe each of today’s top ten trainers at least once during the coming year, so one activity may be observe one a month, starting in January. Another activity may be to rehearse and train one hour a day, five days a week, to perfect my skills.
- Focus only on the things you want. The idea of goals is that they are exclusive. Do not get sidetracked doing non-goal-achieving activities. Concentrate exclusively on the things that will get you where you want to be.
So, work hard, make money, have fun … and set your goals for 2012.
“I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident.” — Thomas Edison
John R. Ingrisano
The Freestyle Entrepreneur
The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.
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