A GUIDE TO GOALS AND GOAL SETTING

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1 A GUIDE TO GOALS AND GOAL SETTING Goal + Action = Success If you want to take action to achieve the desires or ambitions you envision, you need to first write down those goals and then you need an action plan to make them come to life. Goal setting is the best way to transform your visions into actions and results. When you engage in true goal setting, you define your objectives in realistic, measurable terms. So first we need to set out how we go about setting goals. To do that we will use a simple process called SMART Goal setting. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely (or in a Timeframe). With each goal you set, you want to make sure it is specific. Instead of saying I will become healthier this year, challenge yourself to get specific. I will lose 15 pounds in three months. This is specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. In wording the goal this way, you know exactly where you are at in the process of achieving that goal. You also need to identify the resources, time and funds you'll need to invest to attain them. That's how you develop action plans. Once you know where you want to go, the next step is to figure out how you'll get there and how much you're willing to spend on the trip. Use the SMART System Each goal must be defined so that it meets the following criteria: S - Specific M - Measurable A - Achievable R Realistic / Relevant T Timely/Timeframe Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six W questions: *Who: *What: *Where: *When: *Which: *Why: Who is involved? What do I want to accomplish? Identify a location. Establish a time frame. Identify requirements and constraints. Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal. EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, Get in shape. But a specific goal would say, Join a health club and workout 3 days a week. 1

2 Measurable: Frame your goals in such a way so you can measure your progress. For a business example, plan on measuring monthly or quarterly revenues against last year's figures-- something you should be doing anyway. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? Attainable: When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your selfimage. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them. Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy, simply because they were a labor of love. Some people use Realistic here, but Achievable often covers that territory. A suggestion can be that you make your goal Relevant to your life and other priorities. Timely: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? Someday won t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, by May 1st, then you ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal. Give yourself a reasonable time frame for achieving your goal. Then break it down into smaller, short-term increments. Realistically, you may not achieve that X percent increase early in the year, but you can work toward it. Divide your goal percent increase into monthly or quarterly increments that allows you to build on your momentum. This produces measurable, attainable and short-term goals to pursue. 2

3 Record your goals and action plans on paper. Whether you write them down or type them, the very act of recording them will help you flesh out your ideas. Once your plans are complete, you'll have a detailed roadmap with directions to follow. Review your goals and plans regularly. Make a monthly appointment with yourself if that's what it takes. This will help keep you on track as time unfolds. Also, beware of "BHAGs"--big, hairy, audacious goals. Super-ambitious goals are great when it comes to long-range planning and decision making, but they don't lend themselves to goal setting. Focus on attainable goals that you can realistically reach within the year. It's easy to have a vision, but it's hard to make it come true. No wonder some entrepreneurs make the same resolutions every year, without ever achieving them. Don't let yourself fall into that group. This year, resolve to set SMART goals and action plans. Setting Personal Goals Before one can start to think about a business, one needs to take a look at their personal goals. Why is this important? Before long, your business will start to make demands on your time, resources and energy. In taking the time to work out your personal goals, you will be able to structure your business to compliment your personal goals, allowing you to find your place in your business. Now that you understand SMART Goal setting, let s move into a simple list of areas you may want to set personal goals for yourself. This list is a place to start. Please feel free to add any areas you wish. Work through the following categories. Begin to set goals for one year, two years and long term. 1. Financial 2. Lifestyle 3. Personal Development 4. Family 5. Community 6. Spiritual 7. Health Again, challenge yourself to set SMART goals. For example, under the financial category write a specific amount that you want to make. $52,000 is more specific than I would like to have more money this year. Again with family, I would like to spend 10 hours a week with my family, playing games we love to play like. In the Community category, you may say something like, I will spend 5 hours a week, volunteering at the local food shelter. As you make your list of personal goals, know that goals can be changed. They are not set in stone. Now that you have a list of specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely goals, what do you do with them? 3

4 As you set out to build your new business or expand your existing one, your personal goals will come into play. As you move through developing, operating and expanding your business, you will discover just how important your personal goals are to you. This will be an incredible opportunity for you to measure your personal goals and find out which ones are truly important to you and which ones need to be changed. This is all a part of the process. When you realize that a goal needs to be changed, simply challenge yourself once again to set a new SMART goal. As you do so, you will begin to experience how your business can support you in achieving your personal goals. It is important to note here, that many business owners fail to take the time uncover their personal goals. As a result, many experience a drain in energy, productivity and friction between their personal lives and their business. In taking the time to bring your personal goals into focus, you are empowered to develop your business. Setting Business Goals The Importance of Goal Setting Goal setting is an important exercise for small business owners; without goals, we would just drift along. Goal setting allows us to be proactive, instead of just being reactive. We've all had days where we just seem to leap from one crisis to another, but we know that it's not a preferred mode of operation! However, goal setting isn't enough. Goal setting is just the first step to achievement. Imagine, for instance, that your goal is to increase revenue. Knowing that goals need to be specific if you're going to have any chance of success, you decide that you will increase revenue by 7% by a date set four months from now. Time passes. Four months later, you check your books. Are you surprised to discover that you haven't increased your revenue? Goals Need Action You shouldn't be. While you started out well, by setting a specific goal to achieve, you didn't perform any action to help you achieve the goal. What's missing from this scenario is a goal setting strategy to help you accomplish the goal you have set. Without a goal setting strategy, or series of actions, that you are going to use to work towards the goal, whether or not you achieve the goal you have set is just a matter of blind chance. And blind chance is no way to run a successful business! To be successful, you need to make things happen, not just let things happen. Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they're more likely to achieve them. Like setting personal goals, setting business goals provides us with direction and motivation. But only if we set the right goals, goals that will keep our business on track rather than derail it. How do we know that we're setting the right business goals? The right business goals follow three goal setting rules. 4

5 1) Business goals need to be relevant. Business owners sometimes make the mistake of choosing business goals that are pointless. For instance, a business goal to hand out one hundred business cards a month is easy to accomplish but so what? If the intention in setting this business goal is to bring in more business, we all know that the way to do that is to establish relationships with people, and you don't accomplish that by just handing someone a card. The whole exercise was just a waste of time. To be relevant, a business goal has to be profitable in some fashion. That's not to say that every business goal has to be measurable in dollars and cents, but it does have to possess a clear advantage or benefit to your business. 2) Business goals need to be actionable. An even more common mistake when setting business goals is to choose business goals that are too vague or abstract. Business goals such as "Dawn s Bakery will improve our customer service" sound nice - but if Dawn s Bakery is your business, how are you going to do that? When you're setting business goals, be sure that you have developed them from general statements, such as in the example above, to specific actions that can be performed and evaluated. Goals without action plans are just pretty words. 3) Business goals need to be achievable stretches. The purpose of business goals is to move businesses forward and to motivate. It is important to position the bar very carefully when setting business goals. If the bar is set too high, you may be setting up for failure and disappointment which may ultimately mean you will just stop trying. On the other hand, if the bar is set too low, you might not bother to do it as you won't get enough satisfaction or recognition from the accomplishment. A goal that has stretch is worth doing. Recognize that a business goal has to 'feel' worthwhile and set business goals that will accomplish the dual purpose. Follow these three rules when you're setting your SMART business goals and you ll find that you're automatically achieving more because you will no longer be wasting time setting goals that defeat the purpose of the exercise. Specific: Great goals are well-defined and focused. Obtain 2 new billion dollar corporate clients in the St. Thomas property insurance market is more meaningful to mobilize your team than Get more business. Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy eloquently states, "Focus creates a powerful force: goal power. The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate." Measurable: A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard or scorekeeper. Numbers are an essential part of business. Put concrete numbers in your goals to know if you re on track. A goal white board posted in your office can help as a 5

6 daily reminder to keep yourself and your employee/s focused on the targeted results you want to attain. Attainable: Far too often, small businesses can set goals beyond reach. No one has ever built a billion dollar business overnight. Venture capitalists and angel investors discard countless business plans of companies with outlandish goals. Dream big and aim for the stars but keep one foot firmly based in reality. Check with your industry association to get a handle on realistic growth in your industry to set smart goals. Relevant: Achievable business goals are based on the current conditions and realities of the business climate. You may desire to have your best year in business or increase revenue by 50%, but if a recession is looming and 3 new competitors opened in your market, then your goals aren t relevant to the realities of the market. Time-Based: Business goals and objectives just don t get done when there's no time frame tied to the goal-setting process. Whether your business goal is to increase revenue by 20% or find 5 new clients, choose a time-frame to accomplish your goal. The Winning Goal Setting Formula So when you're setting business goals (or any other goals!), use a goal setting formula that incorporates a strategy or strategies for accomplishing the goal. Once your business goals are SMART, break down each goal into a specific set of tasks and activities to accomplish your goals. First, specify the goal. "I will increase sales this month by 25 percent". Setting a specific goal builds in the criteria you will use to evaluate your success; in this case, at the end of the month, you'll either have increased sales by 25 percent compared to the previous month, or you won't. Then, specify the strategy that you will use to work towards accomplishing the goal. "I will increase sales this month by 25 percent by offering a 10 percent off sale on all inventory and advertising this sale in local media." Every goal you set needs to follow this basic goal setting formula: "I will (specific goal) by (specific actions I will follow to accomplish the goal)." As in the example above, you may have several specific actions you will take to achieve your goal, rather than just one. It s important to periodically review your goals and make adjustments if necessary. Goal setting for your small business is an essential tool for success. Remember in the end to be SMART. Goal + Action = Success 6

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