Setting Goals: Five Tips for Getting Started and Keeping it Real
It’s one thing to hope and wish for your dreams to come true and it’s another to pursue them based on realistic, specific, step-by-step goals. The truth is, wishing depends on blind luck, while business success often depends on effective goal-setting methods.
Fortunately, there are proven guidelines that help in setting goals. For example, goals don’t have to be purely financial, as in “reach profitability by December” or “achieve sales of $500,000 by 2014.” They can be smaller steps on the road to those bigger financial goals, as in “increase web traffic by 50% in three months” or “generate 20 leads in Windsor.” The point is, goal-setting is a learnable skill.
Here are five things to keep in mind when you sit down—daily, monthly, yearly—to set goals for yourself and your business:
- Assess your resources: Never set goals that don’t match your capabilities. That means understanding the tools and people you have to work with. Just remember not to limit yourself based upon current capabilities. Instead, determine how much time, money or energy you can invest in achieving your goals up front and plan for future opportunities based on your changing resources.
- Be specific: Goals that are too general or vague will get you nowhere. “Be number one” might be a good personal slogan, but in business you’re going to have to break that down into clear steps. Start with long-term goals, and then move backward through the medium and short term. Your goals should be integrated, which means they should work together as steps toward something bigger. Goal-setting is all about doing things on purpose and building momentum.
- Be Reasonable: There’s a fine line here. Reasonable means not too big and not too small. You should aim high, but not risk a constant sense of failure if you can’t ever say “I did it!” The important thing is to know yourself—that helps you keep things real. You might also want to ask for help setting goals, either from a professional consultant, colleague or friends. Many people are unrealistic without knowing it and need a little help.
- Prioritize: You can’t do everything at once. Carefully decide which goals are most important, or which ones are preconditions for others. Allot time and resources accordingly. Many business people fail by stretching themselves thin across too many competing goals. As a student you’ll need to balance your goals with your education workload.
- Don’t Forget the Goals: Why set goals if there’s no follow-up? The best way to constantly keep them in mind is by posting them on the wall or over your computer. Put them up so that everyone can see them and measure progress toward reaching them. Your goals should determine how you operate on a daily basis.
Your ultimate goal is, of course, success. But “success” is a rather fuzzy concept. How do you know when you’re there? Goals are not fuzzy concepts. They identify and measure success in clear, identifiable pieces. Learn how to set them and then focus on the follow-through.
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