Have you read “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion?
The main character of the book, Don Tillman, is a brilliant man who doesn’t function well socially – the book alludes to Asperger’s Syndrome. He is interested in finding a wife – it is his main goal since satisfying his career aspirations to become a geneticist. He sets about “the wife project” in a very systematic way, actually sending surveys to women to weed out undesirables.
Why do I mention this (and if you haven’t read it, you really should)? Because in the second book, the character thinks something that is essential to goal setting: “…put in place a more formal schedule to ensure that time was allocated efficiently, taking into account the relative priority of each task and its contribution to critical goals.” In other words, goals drive actions / tasks and those actions result in achieving the goal. Translation? If you don’t have the final goal in mind, it is very difficult to accurately set out the path that will get you there.
We started to address this issue in our previous post about writing a business plan. A business plan outlines the various tasks that will get you to an end business goal. So taking one step back in the process, you need to make sure you identify your goals clearly.
Goals can be short AND long term. They can refer to very specific tasks or loftier ambitions. For example, you might have a short term goal that you will break even on your new business by the end of the first year. Your longer term five year goal might be that you want to franchise your business. Knowing both of these goals, it is possible to sit down and plot a path that will take you to both end results.
Ultimately, goals must be S.M.A.R.T. in order to be useful tools for planning:
S = Specific – example? A general goal would be “I want to be successful in my business”. A specific goal would be “I want to earn $30,000 gross by the end of my second year in business.”
M = Measurable – following on the previous example, you can see how the first, more general, goal wouldn’t really be measurable while the second, specific, goal could be easily quantified.
A = Attainable – ensuring that your goals are things that you can achieve has a lot to do with attitude: you want to push your comfort zone a little to create motivation but not so far that you will be discouraged.
R = Realistic – your goals have to be things that you are willing and able to work for. I would like to fly to space but that’s probably not realistic given that I am a 42 year old single mom. Setting yourself up for failure is not motivating!
T = Timely – most of us work best with a deadline in place. Referring back to my original example, the deadline to achieve the goal of reaching $30K was ‘by the end of the second year in business.’ This creates an end-point for the goal, and ultimately a sense of accomplishment, if you achieve it.
As with business plans, goals need to remain somewhat fluid. Personal priorities can change and you need to be able to revisit your plans and goals to ensure that they are still S.M.A.R.T. for you and your business.