In life we all want to be successful at what we do. Ever wonder why some people are more successful and others less so?
Sure, luck has something to do with it. But most successful people start out with well-defined, written-goals, and they measure outcomes and work very hard.
Goals are like a road map to keep us focused. Without a vision or plan to guide us, we might just drift or wander and not accomplish what is needed or wanted.
A well-defined goal helps provide a way to measure our progress, keep us focused. This enhances our productivity to bring about our desired end result.
Imagine you wanted to drive across the U.S. First, you would decide where you want to go and obtain a map or directions on how to get there.
Next, you would determine how long the trip would be, what points along the way you wanted to stop and how many miles you need to travel each day. You might also consider a way to adjust your plan as you go.
Imagine you are traveling, and one day traffic jams slow your progress. You would need to adjust your schedule accordingly until you reach your destination. A well thought out plan for achieving your goals can be a lot like a road map — a road map to success!
Success Isn’t Magic
Successful business people don’t just wake up one day and poof! They are successful.
They start with an idea; develop a plan — usually written down; make some kind of investment of money, talent or other; gather the necessary tools; develop and follow a plan, making adjustments along the way; overcome obstacles; and put in a lot of hard work.
Goals can be used for all aspects of your life: education, work, home life, spiritual life, fitness, or weight loss just to name a few. Setting that goal is just the first step in that journey, whether a long or short journey. Setting a well-defined goal will help get you there.
Let’s get started! First determine what your goal is. Your goal should be SMART!
- S= Specific
- M= Measureable
- A= Achievable
- R= Relevant
- T= Timely
Your goals must be specific. A grocery store’s goal to be successful in business is great, but not specific. Or say a person wants to lose weight. Let’s look at how to make these goals SMART.
Are the goals specific?
An example of a specific goal for a grocery store might be, “We will increase overall sales volume by 15 percent in the next quarter.” Or for weight loss, the person might set a goal to lose 20 pounds in three months.
These goals contain specific time frames and content. They aren’t esoteric ideas.
Are the goals measureable?
In the grocery store example, it can be measured by taking the previous quarter sales and determine the amount of additional sales needed to reach 15 percent for the next quarter.
In the weight loss example, determine new weight by simply taking the starting weight and subtracting 20 pounds.
Are the goals achievable? Well, on the surface they look that way. But for the grocery example it depends on the market and economic conditions of where the store is located. For the weight loss example it may depend on their starting weight and possibly if the person already started losing weight and hit a plateau.
Are the goals relevant?
It is relevant for a grocery store, or any other retail store for that matter, to have sales. But if it was a library, then it might not be as relevant as they don’t typically have sales.
In the weight loss example, the goal is relevant as long as the person has at least 20 pounds that they can lose healthfully.
Are the goals timely?
That depends on when the goal is set. If the goal for the grocery store is set in advance or at the beginning of the current quarter and staff has time to implement plans, then yes.
If the goal for weight loss is set with enough time to achieve before summer would make it timely. Setting it in May would not be timely and would set the person up for disappointment.
Create the Road Map
Now that the SMART goal has been set, a plan has to be made to achieve this goal. This becomes the road map portion — the plan or the strategy. This part is written down and the goal, end result is the destination.
There are a few more things you can do in addition to your goal and plan that will aid you in achieving your goal.
- Communication. This is important in any goal. The store must tell everyone in the organization of its plan so everyone is on the same page. The person trying to lose weight might let others know so that they can create a supportive atmosphere. Decide what works best for your goal and communicate it.
- Track Progress. In order to know if a plan is working, one must track results. The store can do this by comparing weekly sales. The person with the weight-loss goal can figure out how much weight they need to lose weekly/monthly. Breaking down the goal into smaller increments helps to track progress.
- Identify Obstacles. Determine if any obstacles stand in the way of achieving your goal and develop a way to reduce their influence. For instance, with the weight loss example, the person can remove all junk food from the home, reducing temptation.
- Identify Benefits. Making a list of the wonderful things you will reap when you achieve your goal can give you motivation to keep going, especially when you’re struggling. Knowing how you will benefit is a great motivator and will help keep you focused.
- Enlist help and support of others. Find a role model or partner. They can help motivate and keep you focused. If they have achieved the goal themselves, they can offer advice and suggestions to help you reach yours.
- Visualize your goal. The more real you make your goal, the better. Make charts or a vision board. Visualize or imagine yourself after you have achieved your goal. Write your thoughts down or cut out pictures from magazines and put where you can see them every day.
- Reward yourself as you go. Reward yourself for each small step of success you have. These small rewards helps you feel good and keep you motivated to the end, especially when you hit a rough patch.
Even though there is no guarantee that you will achieve your goal, following these suggestions will help make sure your first steps in this journey are in the right direction.
Best of luck to you!
(Photo Credit: Tobias Scheck)