CEOs: Here is How to Set goals – And Stick to Them

Goals: everyone does it, but how many people are actually accomplishing anything? Most likely, you’re doing it all wrong. It’s important to set goals in both your business and personal life.  It doesn’t have to be New Year’s Eve for you to need to make a change or to want to do better; this should be happening everyday.  In fact, 92% of New Year’s goals fail by January 15th, which warrants the question: what goes wrong? Why aren’t people following through on their resolutions?

Goals

There can be several different reasons for why people don’t stick to their goals, but many of these failures stem from setting the bar too high.  Resolutions like, “losing 50 pounds in 2 weeks”, are probably unattainable, and when results aren’t showing quickly enough, these aggressive goals lead to frustration and eventually we give up on them completely.  In business, this is similar to earning $10k one year and expecting to have a 1000% increase in revenue – in reality, there will probably only be a 10% to 15% increase (if nothing exponential has changed in your business).  You need to create realistic expectations for yourself and your business.

Although such high expectations are unrealistic initially, it’s not unwise to have lofty goals. Having an array of goals, ranging from those that are likely, achievable, and possible, is great when thinking about the future.  The “achievable” goals should be any that can be completed in the near future, “likely” can be accomplished in the near future depending on certain factors, and “possible” are a little more far-fetched, but could eventually happen if you or your business reach a certain point.

Stop focusing on tantalizingly easy, “quick-fix” headline content; these successes are outliers and may even be a lie. Instead, use your own trends and industry standards, not get rich quick schemes.

Write it Down

In most articles about goal setting, writing down your goals is a constant.  Having a list of goals on your mobile phone, computer, or tablet may seem easier as it can be accessed on any of your devices, but it also makes it less visible.  Keeping a list on a Google doc or in your “Notes” is not a tangible item that you can hold in your hand and check-off when necessary.

Having a concrete list may seem like a minor factor in order to complete your goals, but according to the Goal Band Success System, “people with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve than people without goals”, but “only 3 out of every 100 adults write down their goals on paper”.  It takes maybe ten minutes to write down a list, and carrying a piece of paper or notebook with you is hardly a challenge.  If your office has a white board, you have another great way to keep track of your goals.  Keeping one in your workspace that’s visible to your whole team is a great way to keep people aware and accountable of the task at hand.

Here’s a great example from this Crossfit blog:

Example of goals

While this specific example is not organized, it represents an idea that can be easily implemented into any office or lifestyle.  One way to adapt this method into your office is to write down goals for each week on Monday, and have everyone complete their individual task by that Friday or by the following week.

If you need more convincing, check out this Forbes article for reasons why you should write out your goals.

Creating a vision board is another great way to help accomplish your goals.  Having a visual representation of all of your goals can help inspire you and allow you to tweak your vision along the way.  For the same reason writing down is effective when trying to complete goals, vision boards utilize the power of visualization to help inspire and motivate those around it.

Having one of these boards in your home or workplace is the perfect way to set the bar for you and your team.  It doesn’t have to be specifically work-related, but rather set the attitude and quality of the work you want to ultimately achieve. According to this Huffington Post article, “Olympic athletes have been using [vision boards] for decades to improve performance, and Psychology Today reported that the brain patterns activated when a weightlifter lifts heavy weights are also similarly activated when the lifter just imagined (visualized) lifting weights”.

Here’s an example of what a possible vision board could look like:

Example of vision board

While writing down your goals may be an effective step, it is barely scratching the surface for effectively achieving them.  There are three steps one must go through in order to visualize and accomplish their goals:

Mini-Steps

So many people try to make huge goals that seem daunting when you try to approach them.  Instead, try to compile of list that works to complete one major goal, say acquiring 50 new customers.  You can’t just immediately accomplish this goal in one step; there are several smaller steps you have to complete first.  Making “Acquire 50 Customers” it’s own list, will make it seem more achievable, and also helps you physically see the process you are making.

Another important aspect of creating ‘mini-steps’ is setting a complete-by date.  If you don’t hold yourself accountable, who’s to say you won’t just push back each step, never completing your goals.  Keeping a planner or scheduling reminders on your phone to ensure you accomplish each step is important.

Daily to-do setup

Each step you complete should also be rewarded somehow.  Rewarding yourself will give you more motivation and determination to reach your final goal.  Dennis Gray of Accurid Pest Solutions says, ‘I try to reward myself quarterly, if helps me avoid burnout and reflect on all I’ve accomplished or learned in the past 90 days.’

Check out this article that explains the “Stop Light Approach,” which further explains why taking ‘mini-steps’ is important to achieve your bigger goals, and how crucial time management is in the process. It also talks about the importance of priority, and understanding which goals are more important or achievable.

Work For It

One of the easiest ways to see your goals through is to simply work.   You don’t accomplish all of your goals doing the bare minimum.  People with successful companies or fulfilling lives didn’t get there from doing nothing.  They wanted to achieve something so they went after it and worked their butt off.

You don’t have to accomplish some monumental goal initially; as I suggest above, take smaller steps throughout a period of time to achieve the ultimate goal.  But even if these steps are smaller in comparison, it does not mean you should put in any less energy.

Each step should be completed with the same amount of energy and devotion if you want the best end result – similar to buying a gym membership in order to get in shape.  Simply having the membership will not give you a better physique.  You have to go to the gym and workout in order to achieve your goal.

Many people take the first step towards their goal, but never follow through.  As stated before, many of these unfinished goals are due to multiple factors but also heavily rely on the amount of effort you ultimately put into it.  Reward yourself for taking that first step towards your goal, but don’t let that pride overtake the fact that the first step means nothing if it ends up being the only step.

A great way to ensure that you are putting in the appropriate amount of effort into each task is to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin.  Don’t try to complete and control every step of the process.  Trust your team, or employees, to help you achieve your final goal. One of the great benefits of having a team is that they can provide services or skills that you may not posses on your own.

Say you want to build a website, but are horrible with graphic design.  Having a team member, or hiring one, that excels in that area will help you achieve that goal. While having other people assist you in accomplishing your goal is helpful, you have to be sure they are willing to bring their A-game.  They can’t be half-assing any task that they are given, or become distracted from the project at hand.

Vocalize the importance of each task and follow-up with each member to ensure they are staying motivated and putting in the effort.  Staying on top of your team member’s tasks is a personal step that you will have to make every day, but will be well worth it in the end.

Services like Basecamp are great sites to use for projects, as it makes it easy for people to communicate and visually see which tasks they need to do or have completed.

Here’s an example of what Basecamp looks like:

BaseCamp screenshot

It also connects to your email, so you are notified immediately if you have a pending “to-do” or if someone has completed a task that you assigned to him or her.

Life Goes On

The importance of setting, and accomplishing, a goal is a huge factor in building/growing/improving your business.  However, if there are complications or some unperceivable hurdles derail your initial goals, it’s not the end of the world.  While you shouldn’t use this excuse for every goal that becomes difficult, it’s important to realize that one failure should not define your business or your life.  Failure is a key benchmark for any business and it makes for a great learning experience.

Not achieving one of your goals should be a wakeup call to how you are managing each step.  Maybe you need to have a team meeting where you identify the disconnect, or rework your project management style.

Implementation

Goals are important, but ineffectively setting goals will only lead to disappointment and frustration. You and your team need to sit down and set your goals together. Consider writing them all down, and then labeling each one as “achievable”, “likely”, and “possible”. Then, go through all of your likely and possible goals and break those down into smaller, sub-goals that are all also achievable.

Reward your team, make your intentions and expectations clear, and hold yourself accountable. There shouldn’t be a limit to what you want to do with your business, but you won’t get anywhere without goals.

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