The calendar has flipped to a new year, and that means one thing: businesses and individuals have set goals and made resolutions, all with good intentions. But good intentions alone won’t get you to your goals.
People innately want something to strive for, something to make us stretch and grow, something to make us better, something to let us know we won, that we achieved something. However, all too often we don’t set ourselves or our businesses up for success.
You can change that this year. And it all depends on what you do first. We usually don’t fail because the goal is unachievable or too big; we fail because we don’t plan well.
Yes, like many things, your preparation is key to reaching your goals. No doubt it will take hard work and perseverance, but you won’t reach the point where hard work and perseverance matter if you don’t start off right.
So what steps can we take to improve our chances for this year being the year we hit our goals?
First of all, set a goal and make sure everyone on your team knows what it is. You may be thinking to yourself that this is basic and we should be beyond it. But check yourself before moving on. Can your team clearly articulate what your goal is for 2017? Do they know what their individual contribution toward achieving the goal should be? If the answer to these two questions are “no”, then one of two things happened: you didn’t set a goal or you didn’t communicate it well.
Ask yourself if your goal is clear and not some vague idea or mushy feel good statement. You can use the SMART goal approach as a guide. SMART goals are commonly defined as those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. There are resources you can find online to dig into that topic if you need a more detailed explanation.
Once you have a clear goal, make sure you have communicated it clearly to your team (even if your team consists only of your significant other and their only role is to cheer you on and hold you accountable). The most experienced manager can’t help you hit your goal if they don’t know what it is.
Second, create a plan that moves you toward your goal. We’ve all heard “hope is not a strategy” and it is not. If you want to reach a goal or destination of any kind, you have to know how you are going to get there. Write down specific actions you will take to achieve your goal and then do them.
Next, make sure you have the resources to achieve your goal, and make sure your resources are focused on the goal. Your goal is important or you wouldn’t have committed yourself to it. If it is important, make sure you invest the effort and money it deserves. Do you need different tools or software? Do you need to change your processes? Do you need to learn a new skill or hire people who have experience in certain areas? Like a car with no fuel, a goal with no resources is going nowhere.
Finally, report on your progress. Reaching a goal of any worth is a journey; you won’t do it in a day. (If you do, your goal wasn’t significant enough.) You and your team both want to know if you are winning the game. Celebrate your progress as you move closer to hitting your goal and hold yourself and your team accountable when you don’t.
Taking all these steps won’t guarantee you will hit your target – very few things are certain in life. You can be certain though that there are things you can do to make this the year you make progress toward your goals.