Goal setting is probably the most common thing that’s talked about in motivation seminars and productivity workshops. Company executives beat this to death into managers who in turn beat this into their employees. There are countless amounts of blog posts on achieving your dreams, but it stands to reason that perhaps why this is so commonly spoken about is because this is one of the most important topics out there; it is the foundation of success. So get ready world, because I’m about to add another one of these posts.
If you want to be successful, you really only need three things: you need to know what you want, you need a plan to get there, and you need a drive to turn that dream into reality.
Set a Goal
Any decent goal will have three elements to it. 1) It needs to be challenging. Goals that are too easy aren’t really goals; they’re just items on your to do list. They should take a reasonable amount of effort to achieve. Otherwise, what’s the point of setting that goal? For the same reason, goals should not be impossible, which would again defeat the purpose. 2) Goals should be measurable. You need a way to track your progress so you know how far you’ve gotten, how far you have left to go, and when you’ve finally gotten there. 3) Goals need to be specific and they need a time constraint. Saying that you want your business to make more money is nice, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Saying that you want your business to increase its revenues by 20% by the end of this year, now that’s significant. A time constraint allows you to know whether or not you’re on track for your goal, whether or not you succeeded or failed, and whether or not the bar was set too high or not high enough.
Have a Plan
Now that you have the big picture, all you need is the details. Create an action plan with detailed day-to-day steps for the short term and have bigger and broader steps for the middle to long term. Set milestones that you can use to check your progress. Some things to think about along the way: understand what’s needed of you; what kind of commitments do you need to make mentally, emotionally, and physically? Understand what’s needed of other people. Understand if you need other people. Be realistic with yourself; does the task require more hands than your own or an expertise that’s beyond your grasp? Understand what will be required of you in terms of time commitment and effort. How many of these tasks can be done mechanically without much thought and how many of these task are going to require full on focus and creativity? In addition to all that, figure out the things that you don’t know that you should know and set aside time to learn those things. Also know that you’re not alone: create a list of people who you can talk to incase you run into a problem and could use some advice. Create a list of people who you don’t know yet, but are damn good at doing what it is that you want to do and reach out to them for help. See if they aren’t willing to sit down with you so that you can learn how they did it, what worked for them, what mistakes they made, etc. The more thought out your action plan is, the better off you’re going to be.
You spent all that time planning and preparing; don’t let all that effort go to waste. A goal without execution is nothing but a dream. Keep in mind the ups and downs that you might experience and understand that success takes time. If you feel like giving up, find something or someone to motivate you. Failing that, consume copious amounts of caffeine (that’s what I do). Go public with your goal; the more people who know about it, the more pressure that you have to complete it. It’s easy to give up on a goal that no one knows you had because no one will know that you have failed. Set up an accountability group, people who will check in on you from time to time to make sure you are doing what you need to do and that you stay on track. These accountability meetings can be as simple as a phone call or they can be as complex as hour long meetings with PowerPoint presentations and reports. You know yourself better than anyone so do what works for you.
When the Dust Settles…
So now you’ve hit (or missed) your goal. Now what? If your goal is repeatable, then do it again. Regardless of whether you succeeded or failed, start over. But before you do, revise your objective. You now have a better understanding of how things work, the mistakes that were made, and what can be done do to improve. You know a lot more about you and your dream than when you first started. If you failed to achieve your goal, lower the bar and try again. If you hit and/or surpassed your goal, up the ante and challenge yourself. The point is to never give up, never growing, and never stop improving.
Next post: My Goals for this Blog and How I Plan to Achieve Them
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