3 Reasons Businesspeople Don’t Set Goals – Part 2
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Last week, I addressed my favorite reasons businesspeople give for not setting effective goals, and specifically tackled the “ignorance is bliss” reason. Today, I delve into Number 2 on my list – “Goals don’t help. I’ve set them before and still failed.”
I call the people who give this reason The Underachievers because they would rather accomplish nothing (or settle for much less than their potential) than fall short of the big prize. They say things like, “My goal was to double my business in one year. I could only achieve 80%, so I failed.”
Rather than acknowledge what they did accomplish, they focus on what they didn’t achieve. And, instead of working to build on their success, they give up on setting ambitious (or any) goals.
The final component of the SMART system I discussed last week is choosing goals that are Realistic. This requires that you have a thorough understanding of your current capabilities, your market, your competition, and what obstacles might stand in your way. Ask yourself relevant questions that will help set you up for success.
Is calling 20 past customers per week for six months realistic given my current workload? How much time will it take? What adjustments can I make to accommodate this new task?
Will 20 calls per week be enough to increase revenue by 50%? How can I maximize those interactions? Do I need a specific offer to entice past customers to purchase my product/service again?
How can I use the feedback I get from customers to improve my success rate?
What else can I do?
One important caveat. It takes thought and practice to strike the proper balance between a goal that is so outlandish that you will lose your motivation to even try for it and one that pushes you to new heights. Personally, I find most people set goals that are way below their potential, so if falling short of your goal has been one of your excuses for not setting challenging goals, I strongly encourage you to err on the side of being unrealistic!
Reaching goals that are too easy to achieve may give you a moment of satisfaction, but does little to move your business forward. Similarly, setting no goals may help you avoid the sting of falling short, but that also keeps you from having real success.
Therefore, I challenge you to challenge yourself. Set goals that put a lump in your throat. Push yourself to go beyond where most think you can. It is the only way to get off the proverbial hamster wheel you are on. If you don’t make it all the way, celebrate how far you got and reload for another run at it.
I love to do an exercise with people on this very subject. I ask, “How much do you want to make this year?” No matter the answer, I say, “Double it…Double it again…Double it again.” Until I see them squirm, the answers are too easily attainable.
I want people to realize their untapped potential, not just push a little harder to achieve moderate success. In order for that breakthrough, you have to be a little uncomfortable. I would rather set a goal at 100 and hit 95 than set it at 30 and hit 40. The celebration of exceeding my easy goal would be meaningless compared to nearly achieving a huge mark.
Things will happen that push your ship off course. Don’t drop anchor and sit still because of it. In business, and in life, success is not a one-time proposition. We try, and then we try again. True success is not merely reaching your goals. It is about the quality of your goals, what you accomplish and learn along the way to going for them, and how you use that experience.
Why settle for simply getting Somewhere? If that is all you desire, then you are already there.
Next week, we’ll look at Reason Number 3 — “If I set a goal, someone might hold me to it and that takes work!”