Confession time. Raise your hand if you’ve ever set a goal without actually taking steps to reach that goal? If you’re like most people, your hand is in the air. Setting goals like, “By this time next year, I’d like to have saved this amount of money” or “I’m going to sell 6 more houses next year than this year” sound great. However, if you aren’t changing your behavior, that goal-setting is nothing but a waste of your time.
It’s easy to dream – easy to know where you want to be – but much more difficult to map out a path to get there.
Necessary changes also mean taking a good, long look at where I am, where I want to be, and how I’m going to get there. We’ve got some steps that may help you avoid a plan that bottoms out.
Start with the present. Make a list of what is working and what isn’t as well as what brings you joy and what doesn’t. You can’t move ahead without understanding where you are. This may be a good time to survey people with whom you have done business. What was their impression of your business? Was their experience positive or negative? Does their perception match the message you’re trying to convey?
Start with the big picture. What does the future look like for you? I’m not talking about this time next year – I’m talking long term. Five years ahead, ten years ahead…what does that look like? What do you want your business to be known for? What does your income look like? What does your life look like?
In setting my goals, it’s good to know where you want to be in 10 years, 5 years and 1 year. It makes planning your next steps make so much more sense.
When you know what the long term looks like, take a look at your short term goals. What do you need to put in place today to make tomorrow possible? If you want to sit on the Board of Directors of an organization you care about, maybe your next goal is to attend a few more networking events this quarter. If you want to sell more, maybe it’s time to invest in some online ads, or attend workshops on lead generation. One good goal begets another.
Think Big, With Wiggle Room
Nothing is more deflating than falling short of your goal. Make big plans, but make sure you’re being reasonable when you decide how quickly to get there. And give yourself help when and where you need it. If there’s someone you admire in your industry, ask if you can treat them to coffee or lunch. Ask a peer for advice on the steps you can take to meet your goal.
If there’s one certainty, it’s that your plans will change. Regardless of the specific goal you have in mind, be flexible and ready to change. There are plenty of reasons to change your goals: unexpected changes in the market, the actions your competitors take, your own life events, and more. There are so many factors outside of your control! You may discover that something you thought would work just doesn’t and find that a new plan is necessary. Readjustment is normal and you shouldn’t see it as a setback.