A large part of running a business is setting goals and achieving those goals. As an entrepreneur, one of your main responsibilities is to take your business from point A to point B. However, that is often easier said than done. Only 5% of business owners report that they achieved all of their business goals in the last 12 months.
So what is the solution to achieving your business goals? According to a small study done by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California, you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down and track them. Writing down your goals is the first step in tracking and moving toward them. The next step is charting those goals
Charting your goals helps you to narrow your focus on exactly what you want to accomplish. It also plays a huge role in motivating you to complete the necessary steps to achieve your goals. By putting your goals down on paper, you can strategize and figure out the best steps to reach success. When you don’t have a plan or even a clear destination, you don’t know how you can make your goal.
Figure out Long-Term Goals
Start simply by brainstorming what motivates you. If you are working towards something you are not passionate about, the chances of you failing increase greatly. Find what is a high-priority in your life and create a plan to achieve that. Once you have determined what your long-term business goals are, write them down. A long-term goal shouldn’t be something easy. This might be something that you are worried that you will fail at but it is still realistic. Most importantly, your long-term business goal should be measurable.
“I want to be more successful” is probably most people’s goal, but how do you measure success? Does successful mean more business, more revenue, or more clients? Success is relative, so you must define what it means to you.
“I want to increase my revenue by 10% by the end of next year” or “I want to obtain three new clients in four months” are measurable. You should also include a timeframe of when you want to achieve your goal, and this should be realistic. Setting a deadline helps keep you motivated and moving towards your goals.
Set Actionable Goals
Once you have established your long-term goal, brainstorm how you can achieve this goal in small, actionable steps that you can complete in the short-term. Write down 30-50 things you must do in order to complete the goal. Creating short-term goals helps motivate you towards your big goal.
By setting small goals, you are able to see if you are on course for your larger goal and if you need to readjust your plan and course of action. You won’t be able to accomplish all your goals overnight, so spreading them out and focusing on a few things at once might lead to better results. Of course, your short-term goal can be unrelated to your larger goal, but it serves as a great confidence booster when you do accomplish your goal.
Don’t Focus on the Resistance
Many times, when we set goals for ourselves, we get distracted by what is stopping us. “I can’t lose ten pounds this year, it costs too much to eat healthily” or “I can’t find new clients because I don’t have time or energy to do it.” We focus on the resistance, making it seem that much harder to achieve our goals.
Instead focus on the positive and what you can accomplish. Review your short-term goals and see what is actionable today or this week and start to get some momentum for yourself towards your goals. As you make progress, you can start to visualize your end goal, and then you will find greater success.
Use Multiple Methods
There are many ways to chart your business goals. You can choose one way that makes it easier for you to track them. Or, you can implore several methods. The important thing is to choose a method that allows you to see your goals and even your progress.
You also want to make sure that you chart your goals so that you will be able to easily see and be reminded of them. For example, if you set goals and plug them into an app but never open the app, your goal can fade away from your thoughts. This will create a lack of focus which can make your goals harder to achieve.
Here are a few ways to chart your goals:
- Spreadsheet-You can create a spreadsheet using Excel, Apple Numbers, or Google Sheets. You can also search for free goal-tracking templates if you do not want to create your own.
- Whiteboard-You can also purchase a large whiteboard for your office or workspace. Write the goals on the whiteboard and update your progress daily.
- Goal Journal-There are also planners and journals available by retailers that center around goal achievement.
Make it a habit
As the wise Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Once you know what your goals are and what actions you must take to achieve them, do it and do it often. Wake up every day and review your goals first thing, to make sure you are moving towards your objective. Once it becomes a habit to work towards success, you will find that it is within reach.
It’s only natural that you will find some days and weeks are harder than others to stay aligned on your goals. Find a mentor or a friend who can help you keep track of your goals and provide feedback on what your next steps should be. Sometimes, you might have missed an obvious easy solution that is solved when you have a fresh set of eyes on your plan. Having someone else holding you accountable can keep you going through periods of low motivation and productivity.
When you have your plan and goals written out, it is important to remember to stay flexible. When you inevitably encounter resistance or barriers to your goal, don’t give up easily! Modify your plan and goals accordingly when something unexpected comes up.
While it might be difficult to give up one of your objectives, try to spread that energy instead of pursuing other objectives that you are able to obtain. Writing down the new goals can help you create a new plan of action and adjust much more efficiently.
Celebrate your success
If you haven’t written down your goals, it makes it harder to know when you have achieved them. As you achieve milestone after milestone on the way to your ultimate business goals, it is essential that you are rewarding yourself. What you choose to do is up to you, but celebrating your success can help keep you motivated throughout your journey.
Without a plan, your dream stays just that, only a dream. Writing down your business goals gives you the chance to find business success. Tracking your goals helps you see how far you have come and how much further you still have to go. While writing down your business goals doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to achieve them, it does give you a leg up on the competition and is a great beginning.
This article was first published in June 2018 but has been expanded and updated.