Goals Matter: Building Your Plan in Seven Steps

Today is July 1st. It is the beginning of a holiday week as we approach the unofficial “middle” of summer with the 4th of July. For many businesses, today marks the actual halfway point of the year— July 1st is the first day of the second half of the year.

With half the year done, we are looking back on the first half to evaluate progress and set the course for the second half. We ask questions like “How was the first half? How does the business look? Are we on-track for our year-end number? What changes need to be made in the second half to reach our goals?” If the answers are fuzzy, if there are too many “I don’t know’s” or “I’m not sure’s” in your answers, the problem may lie in the goals you set. . . . or did not set. It is time to set your goals and build your plan to achieve them, a process that can be broken down into seven steps:

Set clear goals

Establishing clear and precise goals matters. Goal-setting is one of the most powerful tools we have to positively impact our own success. Write your goals out in SMART form: make them Specific, Measurable, Aligned with your values, Realistic, and Time-bound. Having clarity on what you want to accomplish and clear goals that match those desires sets you on a path for success and is a crucial firsts step in the process.

Have a deadline and a timeline

Goals require benchmarks— we need to measure our progress. Establishing numbers and metrics that allow us to mark progress is key to goal achievement, and those metrics need to be time-bound. If your goal is to achieve $2MM in revenue by December 31st, break those numbers down into sub-goals for each half, each quarter, and each month. Take the numbers down to the absurd level; what revenue needs to be achieved each day? The more bite-size you can make the number, the more reasonable it is to achieve.

Know what will get in your way

Goals always have obstacles; no goal worth achieving is without constraints that impede our progress toward that goal. The earlier we can identify those obstacles in the way, the more quickly we can find ways around them. . . . or eliminate them altogether. If a goal is a destination on a map, the obstacles are roadblocks and detours on the route. Planning the course in advance allows us to identify those roadblocks and navigate around them.

WHAT do you need to know?

Any goal worth achieving stretches us. We may need to learn something new, acquire a new skill, or simply improve on our current abilities to reach the goal. Again, a good plan identifies the additional knowledge or skills needed to achieve the goal so we can get to work acquiring that skill or knowledge. Take a class, read a book, learn from those who already have that skill, and learn what you need to know before you need it.

WHO do you need to know?

Goal achievement requires resources. Yes, those resources can be capital, equipment, systems, products, etc. In this context, however, resources are actual human capital. Who are those stakeholders with a vested interest in your success? Who are the people who want to see you succeed, and how do you leverage them in the process? Who do you NOT know who could be resources, and how do you meet them? Use your network to build your network. . . . and your resources

Write it all out

Get it all down on paper. Those who regularly reach and exceed their goals are those who write out their goals, and their plans to achieve them. Write out your goals, your benchmarks, your timelines, and deadlines, what you need to avoid, what you need to know, and whom you need to know. Post it where you can see it and refer to it regularly.

Get to work!

Commit to action. Determine the first steps you need to take in order to reach those goals and get to work. Taking action gets us moving toward our goals. Completing activities with positive results creates momentum, which moves us forward at a more rapid pace. Success creates success— go out and create that first successful step.

Goals matter. Setting clear goals that match your expectations matter. Measuring your progress matters. Setting deadlines and holding yourself and others accountable to them matters. Knowing what and who you need to know and what you need to avoid matters. Recording your goals, your progress, and your accomplishments matters. Finally, the hard work of taking action matters; without it, you have nothing but a bunch of great words on paper. Set your goals, make your plans, and get to work on the back half of the year!

There is more to this story. If you want to dive deeper into this process and actually BUILD your plan, please consider attending my 7 Steps to Goal Achievement Lunch and Learn on July 16th. We'll set goals, build a plan to achieve them, and get you out the door to take action, in an hour. See you there!

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