T’is the season to be merry and as we speed towards December 31, our minds start to mull over what we have achieved over 2017. There is a multitude of goal setting sites and apps to help you stay focused throughout your journey, but sometimes even working out what they are or how they work is the first challenge.
So to get you started, here are the top 7 tips to help you create realistic yet aspirational business goals for 2018 that are sure to get you where you want to be in your professional life.
1. Develop a Dream Board
Whilst this sounds a bit ‘Californian Mung Bean’ and more for personal life goals, the creation of a dream board really does have its place in helping to define and “realise” business goals. Include photos that resonate with you – they could be headshots of business people you admire or images of office spaces where you can see yourself. Also include daily affirmations or quotes from inspirational leaders across different sectors, not just business.
2. Write it Down
There is an old adage that if you can’t write something down, you sure can’t do it! Never was a truer phrase spoken – so just get writing without a filter at first. Then re-write the goals in a way that makes them more specific and measurable. Most importantly, set some deadlines. For instance, if your goals are; to create a flowchart to assess efficiencies; make two presentations per month; or write a specific number of blogs per quarter, these are good examples of quite specific projects. These specific goals then need to be allocated defined deadlines - try 90 day timeframes.
3. Realistic Timeframes
Although it is important to ask yourself 'Where do you see myself in five years time?', in today’s business world, the horizon has moved much closer and arrives much sooner. Today, forecasting and the need to deliver is far more immediate, and usually focusing within the next three months. With that in mind, it is much more efficient to simply focus on the next quarter. This will help to avoid getting overwhelmed and allow you to pinpoint the goals you want to reach, instead of ones in the distant future.
Take your list and select a few things that you want to accomplish within the first 90-days of the New Year. Keep it attainable and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things at once.
4. Bite Size Chunks
Another great adage is ‘the longest journey starts with the first step’ – so break those big goals down into less intimidating projects and relevant tasks. Think of a project as a smaller milestone portion of a goal, or an ‘inch-rock’. Tasks are your to-do list items that make up your projects and their completion then leads to the achievement of your goals.
5. Develop Systems and Habits
Developing positive habits and systems is a great goal in itself to do in and out of business. A great way to create the right thinking needed to achieve this is to create a system that ensures you are accountable. Try treating your goal like a client project and perhaps use a project management tool to keep yourself on track.
To stick to set dates, you need to get into the mindset that this is a client project. Imagine that someone else is holding you accountable for these deadlines. Enlist your partner or a close friend or family member to hold you accountable, having an external, objective perspective makes it harder to put your needs and aspirations aside.
Make it a habit to check in with your dream board and accomplish things by the nominated date. It feels so good when you can tick off those bigger milestone projects and your actual goal from your list.
6. Revisit Your Goals
Hindsight is a valuable business tool; at the end of a 90-day time period, take a good look at the goal or task that you have achieved and assess where it is delivering the results you were hoping for, or whether it is actually worth your time. If there is positive movement – great, but maybe just a little tweaking to the process, what’s included in the offer or whether the marketing is directed to the right audience, could be the kick-start to a jump in profitability. Remember that doing the same thing you did last quarter will likely give you the same or similar results. It is that old definition of insanity - doing the same thing you have been doing but expecting a different result.
Goal setting and particularly goal achieving is really about the follow through. The simple effort of making it a habit, regularly setting and resetting goals, is critical to the successful accomplishment of goals, and is a key strategy to improving your business. You’ll start to see continued growth quarter-after-quarter and year-after-year. And remember it has been through a series of smaller tasks, projects and shorter timeframes that success has been achieved.
7. Reward Effort
Recognising efforts whether they are big or small, or have major or minor impact are important for you and your team in order to stay motivated and on track. The reward/s can be professional or personal, like a personal development course to improve your performance in a particular area of work, or an overseas trip as a reward for the achievement of a big yearly goal or target.
So as part of your goal setting, include in each quarter the item of rewarding yourself or your team. Rewards for you and your team need to resonate and be truly meaningful to all to keep everyone’s eye on the prize, particularly when things are not going smoothly. There will always be ups and downs; it’s all part of the process. Just try to remember that sometimes, you need to take one step back in order to take two more forward.