Do you set goals? I have to admit, early in my career there was nothing — I mean nothing — I hated more than goals. I dreaded that time of year when corporate would send down, from on high, their expectations of what they wanted and expected us to do. The goals were always high, always confusing, and always late. Meaning that by the time they decided what our goals would be, we were already behind when we received them.
Unfortunately, that is how many of us look at goals: Something to be dreaded or even feared rather than embraced. Honestly, goals are powerful, helpful, and most importantly, they yield a high rate of return on investment. Why? Goals give you purpose, focus, a plan, and an understanding of exactly what you need to accomplish and by when.
At the risk of sounding too “out there,” I say that goals also help you manifest your destiny. The mere task of setting goals, looking at them each day, and getting yourself focused on achieving them somehow creates an energy or a force that gives you the resources and information you need to make things happen.
This year, I set a revenue goal and a behavior goal in early December, both of which, as I was writing them down, gave me a little concern as to my ability to achieve them. I was especially concerned about achieving the revenue goal during the slower months of January and February. However, I went for it. I set both goals and set about planning to just go for it. Now I sit here in mid-February on track and actually above my revenue goal for the first quarter. I can’t believe it, but I do believe that setting goals has helped me prioritize what I want and need to do to create the type of business and life I want.
So I thought about that. Why am I doing so well with goals now, when I so dreaded them when I worked for someone else? I mean what has changed? Why do I insist that my clients set goals and focus on them, when I barely paid any attention to them at all when I was a leader in corporate America? What is the difference? The difference is that goals are powerful, goals are helpful and goals create a high rate of return on investment — if they are your goals. In order for goals to work on all levels, they need to be your goals, not your company’s, not your spouse’s, not society’s, but your goals.
See, when you set your own goals, you have ownership, you buy into them, and you create a vision of what you want. Doing so allows the power of your goals to be unleashed. Goals give you focus, energy to achieve, and internal drive — that is, when they are your goals. So if someone else is setting a goal for you, a goal you do not understand, you are not sure you can accomplish, or you don’t aspire to, that goal will become a hindrance, not a support. It will actually de-motivate you rather than inspire you. One of my favorite sayings is, “People support what they help create,” and nothing could be truer when it comes to goals and goal setting.
And of course, this leads to my favorite topic: personal responsibility. Whether you are working for yourself, you have a manager, or you work in a corporate environment, goal setting is not something that should be done to you, it is something you should do for yourself. Sure, you may still need to work on the goals that others lay out for you, but it does not mean you cannot create, develop, and hold yourself accountable to your own goals. It is your life and your career. What are you waiting for? Take the time to sit down and think about what you really want, where you want to be, and what you need to focus on to make that happen. Yes, goal setting really is that easy and that simple.
Then, each and every day, take your goals out and look at them. Read them aloud and think about what steps you want and need to take to make them happen. Then sit back and watch as you implement the behaviors and actions you need to move your business, your career and your life to the next level.