Often summer goals seem to involve either getting your beach body back or arguing about who’s going to be the Grill Master this week. Consider adding this summer ritual to your repertoire and see your business get hyper-focused for the second half of the year.
Remember New Years? No? Neither do most entrepreneurs. That’s because you got drunk on the promise of your New Year’s resolution that got supercharged by the YouTube video you watched of your favorite motivational speaker who asked you “who’s year is it?” and you spoke back to the video and said “it’s my year.” You ate that up like it was black-eyed peas and greens with biscuits and gravy right after the stroke of midnight.
Relishing that moment, you told yourself it’s time for you to “level up.” Excited, you set out to make this “your year.” You even listened to that inspirational video again! All frothy with possibility you went out on January 2nd and started down a road to make it a blow-out year because it’s “your year.” With all good intentions ahead of you, you just start pursuing an opportunity that popped up out of nowhere. You told yourself that there was something mystical about this very particular opportunity and you went running down the road like a crazy dog chasing the bumper of a car.
All that running after customers, employees, funding or whatever it is that has had you working your non-stop mover and shaker apparatus has you focused on that next shiny penny and not necessarily on the thing that will make the biggest difference to your business. Entrepreneurs have a flowing font of energy and some of it gets wasted everyday by the lack of focus.
Now it’s spring. Pretty soon it will be summer. Is it turning out to be “your year” or just another year in business? If you’re like many entrepreneurs, it’s not turning out like you imagined when you said to the YouTube video “it’s my year.” Mixed results often shred your New Year’s “vavoom!” and you’re finding it hard to carry on thinking it’s “your year” when the inevitability of the dip in results happens. So instead of going through the vicious cycle of blaming yourself or feeling badly about your results, put a new practice in place that will lift you up and set your team on the path to winning results.
Revisiting your goals and recalibrating your expectations as you move towards and then past the half year mark will help you regain the lift and excitement around your own ability to achieve and help you inspire your team to action.
“I was thinking that all of us have to learn by experience. Some of us have to go to summer school.”
Regaining your power and enthusiasm means taking the onus off of yourself and putting your focus onto a plan complete with goals that have specific and measurable results. Often entrepreneurs and small business owners have a ton of enthusiasm for their business and inspire others through their unadulterated belief about what they and their team can produce. They’ve got a great game at the 50,000 foot view of their vision. Entrepreneurs galvanize people to rise up and challenge the system. That’s awesome and to truly increase the likelihood that you will be “the change you want to see in the world” leading by plan and principles with specific measurable results will take you far.
Use the runway into the summer months to do a “reality check” on what you’re out to achieve for the year. If you started the year thinking you were going to open a new market but you don’t have a solid plan or the team in place to do this, revisit this goal and see if it really will empower the business to achieve its most basic goal: to grow. It might be better to take your resources to find a new larger client in an existing market and this will better suit the outcomes you’re driving. Recalibrating goals in the summer can help you take the inspiration and intention and hone it in with the current business conditions.
To plant a garden means you believe in tomorrow.”
For those of you who aren’t in the habit of doing an annual plan or goal setting, you are in good company. Did you know that, according to a study by the University of Scranton, 92% of people do not achieve their New Year’s goals? Also reported: setting specific and measurable goals led people to higher performance 90% of the time. So this is bad news followed by good news. Even better news is that you can start goal-setting right now.
Goals versus Inspiration
Goals are different than inspiration. Taking inspired action often comes from the “I have an idea!” whereas goals are tied to a vision, and then outcomes that align with that vision show up as results. Goals cause different actions and a more disciplined approach to achievement. When we have goals, they drive our actions. Like Annie Dillard said, “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” If we goal set and take actions around those goals, we will end up with a life that is being driven by our approach to our desired outcomes.
How to Set Goals for the Uninitiated
Use the acronym S.M.A.R.T to easily remember the elements included in making goals.
Specific means saying exactly what you want. Think about ordering a meal in a restaurant. When you want a salad but with dressing on the side, you have to tell the server that or else you won’t get the salad like you would like it.
Measurable means you can quantify it. You might want to increase your sales. That’s a great aspiration. Saying you want to increase your sales by 20% gives you a target to pursue from your baseline.
Achievable means that you set a goal that you and your team can reach. Sometimes in our quest to “level up” we set those stretch goals so far outside of what our current performance is that no action is taken. We’ve blown our inspiring run to action into an implausible demotivating exercise for our people. We want to stretch people to do more and better but overdoing it can make your people feel like they are on a quixotic quest.
Reasonable is akin to achievable with this caveat—if you have never made a rocket that will bring people to the moon and tell your staff that the team should become expert rocket scientists while still accomplishing their regular workload all within three months’ time, you have just crossed over the line for reasonable accommodations to achieve the requisite outcome.
Timebound is key to setting your plan to achieve your goals. You might want to set a goal for the quarter or for the week. Setting the timeframe will give your people a way to start figuring an approach that works within the constraints that are set.
Three Best Practices Around Goals
These three best practices can give you the superpowers that move your goal setting activities from a good idea into a daily practice. Taking on these three best practices will definitely help grow your goal-setting muscles.
Take notice! There is freedom in focus! Distractions are many when you are running your business and without defined goals and activities, entrepreneurs are wont to run after everything that pops up during the day. It’s a reactionary approach rather than a proactive approach. To help with focus, take on a practice of reviewing your daily calendar and making sure that the activities you’ve got planned are connected with your goals. It’s one of the best ways I know to eliminate activities that don’t have the benefit or payoff that your goals do.
The Power of Three
Focusing on accomplishing the three “big rocks” that you have to move in your business in order to get to that next level means that you can let go of the other items that aren’t serving the outcomes of your focus. Actively choosing what will make the most difference to your business and the outcomes that you’re committed to will help steer you and your team into the goal zone. Each quarter you can only have three goals. Each month you can only have three goals. Each week you can only have three goals and each day you can only have three goals. Using this approach, you can keep a laser focus on achieving what will make the most difference to you and your business.
Having a visual display that shows you the goal and then some of the key action steps or milestones can help you keep on the good foot with your plan. Think of a visual display like a touchstone that helps keep you inspired and keeps you on track.
Make your entrepreneurial superpowers achieve more by harnessing the tools of goal setting and planning. You got inspired by New Year’s; now is the time to get focused on how you’ll finish the year. Revisiting your goals and focusing on a recalibrated plan means you’ll have time to work on that beach body, claim your primacy as a grill master and still enjoy those long days of summer.