One of the key elements to being more productive is to learn effective goal setting skills. This is important in life, but essential when running a business. It is all too easy for us to have a whole bunch of stuff we want to do, yet waste a huge chunk of time endeavouring to achieve any of it.
There can be many reasons for this but usually number one is not effectively setting out our goals.
We make vast lists, we create vision boards, we dream of what it will feel like when we finally achieve what we want and then we falter at the first hurdle because we haven’t got a clue where to start!
Don’t get me wrong, most of us have the skills and abilities to get what we want in life, but we get bogged down in the minutiae, wanting to do everything all at once. And with that doubt sets in and we overwhelm ourselves – where do I begin? what should I tackle first? And if I choose a starting point, what if it’s the wrong starting point? If I focus on X, who will take care of Y?
The more overwhelmed we feel, the greater our doubt becomes and we start to feel that our goals are insurmountable. We get nowhere fast, and all too often we abandon things that are important to us because they always seem just out of our reach. We begin to feel that we must have been crazy to think that we could ever do the things we had so hopefully dreamed of, so we compromise, we make our dreams smaller and our goals to match.
But I’m here to tell you that no goal is too big for you to achieve, you just have to be tactical in your approach. You must aim (plan), fire (get started), execute (smash your goals). In my work as a Virtual Assistant I am witness to many different businesses successes and failures. Those that succeed do so because of effective goal setting strategy and execution. And below you will find the steps that will enable you to do this effectively every time.
This step is vital. Write down everything you want to achieve and why. Think about your priorities. Your goals should always be in line with these. You may have one big goal, a lot of little goals or loads of massive goals. Whatever they may be, write them down. Go crazy. Your goals should both motivate and challenge you. This is your time to dream big, don’t hold anything back. Only you can see them at this stage, don’t be afraid to put down on paper what you really want to achieve.
Now it’s time to begin breaking those goals down. You are more than likely aware of SMART goals and this is the perfect opportunity to start applying those principles:
Specific – The best goals are clearly defined. Don’t be vague. You must know exactly where you want to go to be able to get there.
Measurable – Don’t you find it frustrating when someone says to you “I’ll get that done ASAP” or “You should hear back soon/shortly” (I know I do). Don’t do that to yourself. Give your goals clear parameters of time – “By this date I have…”, “Within 1 month I have achieved…”. This will not only keep you accountable to hitting certain defined targets, but it will also give you the opportunity to celebrate these little victories along the way. The more victories, the more motivated you will be to continue.
Attainable – I know, I know, I said go crazy but you should also be realistic. If you are 42 and 5’6” it’s unlikely that you are going to be able to start a brand-new career as an all-star basketball player. Unfortunately, there are some things in life that are just not meant for us. However, most goals that you want to achieve in your business will absolutely be possible for you to hit and the more realistic you can be the less likely you are to become demoralized in the path to attaining them. Just don’t make them too easy, remember they should challenge you and push you further.
Relevant – This directly ties into what’s been said above, your goals should be relevant to your business and your priorities. They should set you on a clear path. The more your goals align with your priorities, the more focused you will be in achieving them. More focus, leads to less time wasted, giving you more time to get what you really want out of life.
Time-bound – You’ve got to give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Gone are the days of, “One day I’ll get to that…”. You must be firm with yourself. Deadlines create a sense of urgency and they also give you a focus, no more time wasted. And once you know the date that you are going to achieve your goal, you can start planning a suitably wonderful way to celebrate your success.
Right, so you’ve got your goals written out. You know what you want. You know that it is in line with your priorities and will drive you forward in the life you want to live. You know that there are ways to measure your progress and you have a deadline for when it will be done and dusted. Now you have to create a plan of action – what needs to be done and when. The best way to do this is to reverse engineer your goal. Start from the premise of having achieved it and work backwards. Research what it will take to hit that target then break it down into small chunks. Ask yourself what step will bring me here, and what step led to that one, and so on and so on until you have a starting point and a clearly defined plan to get to the end result. And a lot of this work you will already have done without realizing during the previous steps. By doing this you not only make your goals manageable and achievable, you also give yourself the space to enjoy achieving them and to celebrate when you complete each step.
Aim, Fire, Execute
This is where the fun begins – Do the work! Start! Go out there and execute all your plans! If you do something every day that moves your forward before you know it you will have smash your goal in no time at all!