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To achieve new, different and better things in business as in life, we need to learn new things, new ways of getting stuff done. No one, anywhere, ever achieved a lot with only a little knowledge or experience or skills. In fact, to really achieve great things, we need to change ourselves and become ‘new’ and different and (hopefully) better versions of ourselves. For business owners and executives, that means learning new ways of leading, communicating, building great teams and systems and process and testing and measuring our numbers so that we can make great decisions.
To make the most of your life, you need to target your destination. Whatever your dream is for your life and your business, that dream needs to be shaped into a set of robust goals. Beginning with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey puts it, “means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
Goals do at least three things. First, they provide us with direction and focus. Having a clear sense of direction and focus provides meaning and purpose in our lives, which contributes directly to happiness. The link between satisfaction and achievement is very clear (we feel satisfied when we get stuff done) and the way to set that up is to be 100% clear on what your goals are in the first place. The clearer you are about that, the more of your true potential can be unlocked.
Second, goals provide the movement and momentum to drive change. They provide the pathway to a brighter. By consistently focusing on each of the goals we’ve set, the inertia we face is overcome and so we can move towards the future with increasing confidence. The key here is to make your goals (very) granular. Annual goals are fine, but daily goals are critical to success. Imagine the clarity for you and for your teams when you know exactly what you need to achieve this month, this week, today to keep you moving towards the overall 12-month goals you’ve set for your company. Likewise, company-wide goals are good, but break those down for every division, every team and for every person. That way, there is no doubt you can really build great momentum as you celebrate a completed goal. And make sure you do celebrate the wins!
Third, goals influence the person you become. Richie McCaw set out to become a GAB (Great All Black), a goal he most certainly achieved. Without knowing every step he took, we can reflect that he would have had interim goals (making the local team, getting into the Crusaders, being selected for the All Blacks, learning from others, running the hills to build fitness…) Did that change who he became over the years? To know that we’d need to speak to those who know him best, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t say he grew, developed and changed as he became the leader he did. That is what goals do for us – they guide us to become who we need to be to achieve what we want to achieve.
Successful people are intensely goal-oriented, realising that no matter what circumstances they grew up with or started out with in business or life, anything is possible with the right focus and application. They don’t allow the past to constrain or limit their potential. Successful people also tend to think about what they want and how to get it, realising (again) that you become what you think about and visualise most of the time. Think about the successful people you know, and I’ll wager that they tend to speak about and focus on opportunities and solutions. Now think about people you know who tend to spend most of their time talking about their problems, worries and challenges. Are they successful? Who would you rather spend an evening with having dinner? Our mindset is massively powerful in setting us up for success. A mind focused on our objectives is a powerful mind.
Harvard Business School conducted a longitudinal study over a decade from 1979. They asked students about their goals and found that 3% had written goals, 13% had unwritten goals and 84% had no goals (or at least none they could articulate). Ten years later the same people were surveyed, with interesting results: The 13% of students who had goals (albeit not written down) were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals. However, the biggest difference was that the 3% who had written goals earned, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% altogether!
Knowing all this about goals, what are the implications? First, invest whatever time and effort you need to become absolutely clear with yourself about what you want and who you need to be to best achieve it. The starting point to achieving goals is desire (or how much you really want something), which leads to the second thing you need to do: decide what price you are prepared to pay to achieve your goals. People won’t change if they aren’t both dissatisfied with where they are, nor do they have a clear vision for where they want to be. If the price seems too high, they’ll simply not put in the effort needed and no amount of pushing and prodding will move them.
Third, take action. Now. Make it a habit for the rest of your life to have daily goals. We over-estimate what can be achieved in a year but tend to under-estimate what can be achieved over a six-, seven- or ten-year period. Results are achieved by a combination of volume (how much we do), velocity (how much effort we put in and hence how quickly we move) and consistency (steady, regular effort in the right direction).
If you don’t yet know how to set goals, or you find the process daunting, pair up with someone who can show you the way. Or form a small group and go through the work together. Consider using these questions (based on Brian Tracy’s work) as you define your direction and the goals, learnings and activities you need to get there:
- Imagine that you have the inborn ability to achieve any goal you could ever set for yourself. What do you really want to be, have, and do?
- What are the activities that give you your greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life? What values do you hold most dear? Goals aligned to your values are likely to be most readily achievable.
- Look at your personal and work life today and identify how your own thinking has created your world. What should you or could you change?
- What do you think and talk about most of the time – what you want or what you don’t want?
- What is the price you will have to pay to achieve the goals that are most important to you?
- What one action should you take immediately as the result of your answers to these questions?
You’ll learn from each other, be able to motivate and encourage others and have the deep satisfaction of taking ownership and control back into your life. Start now.
Focus, Accountability and Mentoring are the keys to unlocking your future. HERE’S WHY
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