A GOAL WITHOUT ACTION IS JUST A DREAM
Goals are great but what actions are needed to reach your goals?
This is a great time of year to reflect on where you were in the past year on both a professional level and personal level. Where did we fall short in our goals and what steps or adjustments are needed in the coming year to reach your new goals? There are hundreds of books that address goal setting. Search "goal-setting books" and you will find all you want on the subject. They all have one common thread, goals need to be specific, realistic and contain a plan of action. So my intent here is to not rewrite the books or introduce you to the latest goal-setting fad, but to simply break down the tried and true steps needed for successful goal setting.
Goals need systems, procedures, and action
The first action step in successful goal setting is to honestly evaluate your past year. Did you set goals? If so, have you taken the time to measure them? An evaluation plan needs to candidly analyze:
Were the goals realistic?
Where did you end up compared to your goals: ahead, behind, or even?
Why did you reach your goal or not?
What factors contributed to reaching or not reaching your goals? Economic? Personnel? Lack of capital? Poor planning?
What did you do well?
What improvements are needed to do better this year?
Now that you have honestly completed your evaluation of last year, it's now time to establish your new goals using the results from last year, plus consider all influencing criteria that need consideration for setting your goals this year. Influencing criteria is trying to predict or evaluate operational changes from last year to this year. For example, changes in the economy, legislative or regulatory changes, personal or personnel changes, capital needs versus capital available, marketing or sales strength, product or service trends, where you are and where you want to be, plus so much more. Any or all of these influencing criteria will have a positive or negative effect on your goals and must be factored into your goals and action plan.
Now you are ready to state your coming year's goal. Do not make blanket statements such as, "I am going to make a million dollars this year." More than likely, you will never achieve that goal. Unless you are incredibly lucky, it's just not enough to make any kind of blanket statement and expect to reach the stated goal.
Goal-setting is not what you say, it's what you say and then do. If you simply state you want to make a million dollars this year, you will fail. That is not a goal, but a dream. Don't just dream! Instead, plan out in detail exactly how you will make a million dollars, or whatever your number is, with the resources you have available to you or that you can acquire.
If your goal is to make a million dollars this coming year and you made nine hundred thousand last year, your goals will be far more different than if you earned fifty thousand last year. To be successful in your goal setting, it's imperative to consider all aspects, have a firm grasp on the complete picture and be honest with yourself. Keep asking yourself, "Is this realistic and am I up for the challenge?"
Plan the Work, Work the Plan
Your plan of action is the precise steps you need to take to make your goal a reality. It's the 'systems and procedures' portion of the goal setting. If your goal is to create or improve your systems and procedures, start there. Systems and procedures are essential to accomplishing your goals. If you don't have organized systems that you abide by, how can anyone else follow them?
Everyone in your sphere has to be all-in on your vision and action plan for the future. That requires you to instruct, train, coach, ask questions and motivate everyone to be on the ride with you.
Regular communication is essential to attaining goals. Ask your team questions and as well as their input on various systems or procedures. How can we be more efficient? What changes need to be addressed? What value does each person bring to implementing the action plan? What do we do well? What needs more of our attention? If you are successful in motivating everyone to have the same vision, it will be far easier to reach your goals. Everyone has to clearly understand your goals, systems, procedures and action plan to be operating at the peak performance to reach your goals.
Goals are a work-in-progress. Constantly re-evaluate your goals and make adjustments.
I like to evaluate my progress on a monthly basis. I know many who do this on a quarterly basis. The important point is, don't put all this work into building a goal and action plan and not revisit the plan on a regular basis. If you need to make adjustments, it's far easier to do so more frequently when such things as influencing criterion affect your goals.
The facts are situations, commodities and conditions change all the time. So, learn to 'adjust and adapt' how we do things. Goals are a work-in-progress. Events that can and will impact your goals will occur, but don't give up. Don't become so rigid in your goal and action plan that you cannot or will not make adjustments. The end result is what matters so don't get caught up in minor changes in your journey. Adjust and adapt effectively and you will get there.