How to Set Goals You’ll Keep
How happy are you with the way you typically set goals for your business? Do you keep your goals once you’ve set them, or do you struggle to follow through? In my last post, I outlined the crucial first step in the goal-setting process: quarterly review. Today, I’m walking you through what to do once you’ve completed your review, and you’re ready to sit down and set your goals.
Most people are actually pretty bad at setting goals: they tend to default to one of two options, neither of which are great. The first option is to set a goal that is so easy to reach, that there’s no real challenge involved. Then they don’t end up seeing any real growth, because the goal wasn’t ambitious enough. With the other option, some folks set goals that are too ambitious, to the point where they’re almost impossible to reach. Then they get easily discouraged because they never feel like they’re getting anywhere. Most entrepreneurs fall into the second category, in my experience.
This is why it’s so important to look at real data before you set your goals, and then to make sure the goals you set are intentional and logical as well as aspirational.
Not One Goal, But Three: Good/Better/Best
Earlier in my career as an entrepreneur and CEO, I participated in Todd Herman’s 90-Day Year goal-setting program. During this time, I learned about the concept of good/better/best goals. I still use this process in my own goal-setting, and I encourage it for my clients as well.
In this type of goal, you have three levels:
- A good goal is one that would yield a satisfactory result, and reaching it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. With this type of goal, you should be able to reach it around 80-90% of the time, barring unforeseen circumstances. You should be willing to bet a thousand dollars on reaching this goal, but it shouldn’t be so easy that reaching it is just an absolute default guarantee.
- A better goal is something that will be a stretch, but also still possible. You should definitely feel like you’re pushing yourself to be able to reach this goal, but in the end, you should actually reach it between 40 and 50% of the time. This type of goal is possible, but not easy.
- A best goal is one where if you reached it, you would probably pass out from the excitement. It’s still feasible, but very unrealistic. Reaching a goal like this only happens 5-15% of the time, because several factors have to line up for you to hit that goal. (Note: This is where entrepreneurs often set their only goals, and that’s why they get discouraged because they almost never actually reach those goals.)
Set the Right Types of Goals
Using the data from your review, choose one to three areas of your business that you want to work on for the coming quarter. For each area, you’re going to set a good, better, and best goal.
Before you actually write down your goal, consider this: there are only two types of goals you can set, and you will want to be intentional about the type you choose. Activity goals are things you will do, while outcome goals are results you will see. For example, an activity goal is, “I will write a newsletter every week.” An outcome goal is, “My newsletter will have a 50% open rate every week.” You can control an activity goal, but you can’t fully control an outcome goal.
Both types of goals are valid, but when you’re setting your goals, it’s important to have at least one outcome goal that will positively influence your business. The outcome goal is often just about income, and it will be tied to activities, but the outcome is the goal you should reach for.
Think about it this way: if you set an activity goal, and you do the activity, what happens next? The outcome is uncertain, but if you do not see any positive results from your efforts, you’re stuck in a holding pattern. On the other hand, if you set an outcome goal, you will naturally change up the activities you try until you find the “magic formula” that yields the outcome you were after. You’ll be more likely to achieve success because you were pursuing an outcome rather than checking an activity off your To-Do list.
For each area, you identified to work on, set a good/better/best goal, and try to make sure that most of these are outcome goals.
Check-in: Do these goals feel right for you?
If you have three major outcome goals with good/better/best levels for each one, that’s a good place to start. However, it’s important to take a look at those goals and examine them with a critical eye. Can you reasonably work toward all three goals at one time? Will reaching those goals bring you the growth or stability you’re after in your business? Is it a stretch that will challenge you without overwhelming you? Do these goals line up with your vision and mission?
One final item to consider: Is there a goal that you need to set around your own behavior, that would move your business forward? Maybe you need to look at your finances every week, delegate more work and stay out of it, or thank a different employee for something specific every day. As the CEO of your company, nobody performs an annual review for you, so you’ve got to do it for yourself. Personal development should always be part of your goal-setting process, so while you’re listing your goals, make sure to pick one thing that you could be doing better and add it to the list.
Do you want some support in setting strong goals and holding yourself accountable for working toward them?
Let’s talk about how our Quarterly Tune-Up sessions may be the perfect fit to help you set your goals and keep with them.
Click here for more information to schedule a conversation with Gwen.