People generally do not say to themselves, ‘At the end of next year, I want to be in exactly the same place I am today.’ Usually they hope that they will be in a better place—that might mean making more money, having more flexibility and freedom, or taking on a new career or business. However, many people find themselves doing the same things year after year because they do not plan to get the things they say that they want.
To reach your goals, you first need to know what they are. Think about where you want to be five years from now. Do you see yourself retiring, selling your business, starting a new business, adding staff, expanding to new areas, or scaling back to enjoy more time with family? Whatever you imagine, work backwards from that vision to determine what you must do to get there.
Set goals for yourself. ‘I want to make more money,’ is not a goal. Goals should be specific and quantifiable. How much more money do you want? By what date? And what will you do to reach that goal?
Goals should be achievable. If you set impossible standards for yourself, you will become frustrated, not successful.
Goals that require you to stretch a little are good. If you can reach your objectives in your sleep, there is no challenge and hitting your targets is not as satisfying. The best goals require you to step up your performance in some way.
Put your goals into an overall plan. What steps will you have to take in order to reach the goals you have identified? Each step becomes a part of the plan.
Put it in writing. Write down your plan. The steps, the time frame, the resources needed, the outcome expected…all of it gets written down where it can be referenced as it is executed.
Have a partner or a buddy. Share your goals with someone else and encourage them to hold you accountable. Do the same for them. If they know that your plan is to finally write that novel this year, they will expect you to do it. That outside accountability makes it more likely to happen.
Be willing to change. You may find that changes in circumstance cause you to change your goals. That’s fine. Don’t stubbornly cling to goals ‘just because.’ Revise them when new opportunities come up.
Now do it. Take the first step, and then the next. Rejoice in your successes and reward yourself for taking risk and doing the hard work.