If you are like most people in America, you made a few New Year’s resolutions last month. Now it’s February. How are you doing? Even if you didn’t make specific resolutions for 2012, there were probably a few things that crossed your mind that you wanted to change about your life and your business. You probably set some goals. I sometimes wonder why the New Year brings on new ideas and so many resolutions. Is it because of all the talk about resolutions that brings our attention to it? Is it just an American tradition? Is it because we have had some “downtime” to think about our lives over the holidays?
Who knows why we do it, but the fact is that we do. Another fact is that most New Year’s Resolutions are not kept. Health club attendance is at an all time high in January. But where is everyone now? Setting goals should be a lifestyle. Let me say that again - setting goals should be a lifestyle. What do I mean by that? What I mean is you should be reflecting on where you are in life and in your business every day.
You should be looking at your clearly defined, written goals, every day. You may feel that you are not good at setting goals. I disagree. You already know how to set a goal. Let me prove it. Do you have a favorite TV show? Do you have a favorite football team? Aha! I would be willing to bet that you know exactly when “your” show or “your” team comes on. And guess what? You rearranged your schedule so you could be in front of the boob tube! You set a goal, and you realized that goal! Now, all you have to do is transfer that same concept to the rest of your life and to your business. I understand that it’s not that simple, so in this article I will share a few thoughts about goals that will help you along.
Let’s start with what I call your “life goals.” Life goals are the things you want to achieve in life, whether those things are physical (like losing weight), emotional (like not cursing), spiritual (like getting closer to God) or material (owning something you don’t currently have). Life goals could incorporate how many hours you work or how much you play sports or travel. It can be as unique and as extensive as you want. And the reason that you want to start with life goals is because your life goals are the only reason your business exists. You went into business for a reason. Do you remember why? Was it to make a lot of money? Are you doing that? Was it to chart your own course – to be your own boss? Are you doing that? Was it to have a little more free time? Do you have that?
The greatest lesson you’ll ever learn in business is that the only reason your business exists is to achieve your life goals. That’s the reason you went into business. You thought that having this business would help you achieve your life goals better than any other choices you had at the time. Instead, if you are like most small business owners, you got something far different. Instead of having more free time, you work 24/7. You feel like you have a “job” instead of a business and your day is consumed putting out “brush-fires.” You became a slave to the business. Now this is a hungry monster that must be fed.
Work “on” the business not “in” the business
– Michael Gerber
My good friend and bestselling author Michael Gerber wrote a book called “The E-Myth,” which reveals how people go into business with lots of dreams of success only to become prisoners of their own making. They think because they do the “technical” part of the business well, that they will automatically be successful in business. This is what Michael calls the “fatal assumption.” Because they spend all their time “doing” the work of the business (working “in” it), and not enough time working “on” it, such as planning, marketing, and building systems so that the owner is not required for the business to run. And I have found that many small business owners don’t really know how to do some of the working “on” the business.
This is not to say that you can’t work “in” your business at all, and it certainly doesn’t mean that every business has to grow beyond the owner, it just means that if you want to use your business as a vehicle to achieve your life goals, and if it’s not currently doing that, then something has to change. And in order to create change, you have to have a vision, which means you will have to set some goals for yourself and for your business.
To reach your goal of going into business, like taking a certain amount of time off, is going to require some working “on” the business. It will take planning the business rather than simply letting things happen by accident. Success doesn’t happen by accident – it happens by intentionally focusing on what it is you want, outlining a plan and implementing that plan.
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare
– Japanese Proverb
Remember that you can have all the plans and goals in the world, but if you don’t take action toward them, they will just be a daydream. Success requires implementation. On the other hand, you get up every day and do stuff. Are the things that you are currently doing moving you toward your life goals? Do you have a clear vision? Are you taking action toward that vision?
Without clearly defined goals, you will never know where you are going and when and if you ever get there
– Chuck Coonradt
You can’t hit a target that you cannot see. If you succeed without goals, it is by accident, and that’s scary! The reason that succeeding by accident is a problem is because you don’t know how to duplicate that success in the future. By setting goals, you have a target. You know what you are shooting for. You will develop strategies to reach the goal. If successful, you can duplicate the recipe again and again.
Not having goals greatly reduces your chance of success. I have a photograph of a basketball hoop in my office. The caption says, “You will miss 100% of the shots you do not take.” How true. Could you imagine a ball game without goals? How would you know when one of the teams won the game? How would they know when they won? The game of business has a score board. By setting goals, you can know how you are doing in the game.
Ball games are won by reaching more goals than the competition. You may have direct competitors in your industry, but your biggest competitor is probably the one that greets you in the mirror each morning! Someone once said, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us!” Often times we set ourselves up for failure, simply by doing nothing. Failure doesn’t require doing anything. My waistline will continue to grow unless I do something. If I don’t set food intake goals (or limits in this case) and exercise goals, my waistline will grow all by itself. Success in business does not happen by accident – it happens by design.