Every year, on December 31 (today) I sit down for 30 minutes and outline my goals for the coming year. I always set three types of goals: personal, “stuff,” and business. At the same time I set three, and five-year goals that are bigger and badder extensions of my one year. I used to set 10 and 20-year goals, but found that these changed dramatically. Today I set 10 and 20 year “destinations.”
Personal goals are just that: lose weight, take a meditation class, get eight hours of sleep every night, etc. “Stuff” goals are entirely about material possessions. No it’s not bad to own nice things, whoever started that rumor probably never drove a 1500 horsepower, $2.7m Bugatti Chiron (I have–it’s awesome!). The point is, in life, nice possessions make the journey more enjoyable. Of course you should want and try to acquire those that make you happy, because believe me, if you own that Bugatti, you’ve earned it!
The third goal, business, is where I want to focus this article. Whether you are a one person company, the CEO of a large organization, or someone who is somewhere in between – business goals are vital if you want to thrive and live a life of abundance.
How to Set Accurate Business Goals in 2017
Let’s start out with an existential fact of life. The more regularly you set goals, along with cataloging how you achieved them, or (much more importantly) why you did not, the better you will get at achieving your goals.
Why is this? In simple terms, cataloging successes and setbacks (there are no failures, if you learn from them) will allow you to determine the driving forces that push you forward or hold you back. Seek more of the former, aggressively push away the latter.
Beneteau’s 34 Racing Sailboat
Assume you suddenly found yourself on board a Beneteau 34 foot sailboat in the middle of Lake Michigan. You have no idea how you got there, and absolutely no idea how to sail. Inside there was enough food and water to last for a year, so you were in no danger of starving, but you knew nothing about sailing. If you’re like most human beings, overtime you’d start to experiment to try to get things moving, otherwise you’d find yourself adrift for a long, long, time.
Eventually you’d figure out that when the sail is raised and properly positioned, the sail “lifts,” or moves, the boat. At some point you’d determine that you could both sail into the wind (at about a 45 degree angle) and with the wind. This might take months, but you’d eventually crack the code. As time marched on you’d discover that by making the sail more taunt you’d travel faster and by making it less taunt you’d travel slower. Once you discovered all of this, you would then know how to control both the speed and direction of the vessel with relative ease, subject only to the vagaries of mother-nature.
You’d need to be careful though, as you piloted your craft faster, the wind would create more lift and actually might cause the boat to rise out of the water and capsize as the centerboard (the long fin underneath) emerged from the side, so the proper balance of speed and lift would be in order. Of course the better you got, the closer you could take your vessel to the edge where speed and calamity meet, without tipping over.
Setting business goals is a lot like teaching yourself to sail. The more you set and measure successes and setbacks the more you can control the speed and direction of your business. Grow too slow and you’ll leave valuable opportunities on the table, grow too fast and you run the risk of something going horribly wrong because your “centerboard” has left the water. Get it just right and your business becomes an unstoppable powerhouse set up for success for years to come!
Getting a Business Coach
I’ve been fortunate to have some very good coaches along the way in my career. I can tell you with 100% certainty that a great coach can make the difference between a terrific, high growth, highly successful operation, and business calamity.
Coaching comes in all forms: a great book (I’ll bet the person on board that Beneteau 34 wished there was a book called Sailing for Dummies in the glove compartment); a business coach (my absolute favorite is Rajeev Dewan – I’ve spent the last two years with Rajeev (several days x once each quarter) in Sydney, Australia and he gets results!); a mentor, or some combination of the three. One thing is certain, coach or not, all great business leaders measure and catalog successes and setbacks.
The best coach however is experience, and that is why successful business leaders are generally successful again when they set out to build a similar business to the one they just left; however, to supercharge your experience (and turn 10 years into two), set goals, measure if they are working, adjust accordingly and most importantly, seek answers as to why (or why not) you were successful.
Good luck this upcoming year.