*Published with permission in the May, 2015 Newsletter*
Having a positive attitude is great, and dreaming about the future is essential. But you can’t stop with just dreaming. Neither one of these will get you where you want to go, unless you roll up your sleeves and map out a step-by-step plan.
You see, goals are dreams and visions with work clothes on. I’m talking about leaving the strategic behind and focusing on the tactical. Setting goals and working toward them is the heavy lifting part of the equation. Without them, you and your business are like a ship without a rudder.
The key is to turn your dreams into individually attainable pieces that will gradually create something special down the road. If you wait on outside variables to motivate your team, or change things in your personal life, you’re going to wait a long time. You and your goals are the key ingredients. It’s your responsibility to lead, and goal setting is an important key to winning in business and in life. Goals are the process of bringing your dreams down to earth. Then, with your feet planted firmly on the ground, you must take actual, proactive steps to make your dreams and visions come true.
Components of goals
When setting goals, it is important to be very specific in what you want to achieve. Vagueness will only cause you and your team to be overwhelmed and disillusioned. As a leader, you do not want to become one of those dreamers who talks a lot and does nothing.
Let’s use losing weight as an example. You can’t simply say that you want to lose weight, because that is not specific. It may technically be measurable, but a solid goal should be both measurable and specific. A better way to set this goal would be to say that you want to lose 30 pounds, or have a waistline that is four inches smaller.
Planning a time frame will help you set realistic goals. If you don’t have a time limit and deadline in place for achieving goals, you’ll find that it’s very difficult to break your overall goal down into micro-goals that measure your progress. Putting a time limit on your goals forces you to accept the reality of what must happen in order to achieve them.
Get it in writing
Almost everyone drops the ball on this one. When I talk to people about this practice, they always say it’s a great idea to actually write down your goals. Still, few actually do this.
It’s almost impossible to accomplish anything that matters without some kind of written blueprint. You wouldn’t start to build a house without a plan, so why on earth would you attempt to build and grow your business without one?
Make sure they are your goals
Pushing through difficult obstacles is the mark of a winner. After all, big goals require lots of courage and a strong backbone. But if your goals aren’t really yours — if you’re pursuing something because someone else wants you to — the chances of failure loom large.
Goals are funny creatures in that you have to absolutely and completely own them in order to have a chance of making them happen. You have to want to achieve success and see things through to the end because you love what you’re doing — not because someone else envisioned the goal for you.
Communicate your goals
Finally, as a leader you should always share your goals with your team. Imagine someone putting you in a dark room and asking you to find certain items inside that room. I suspect you would be pretty frustrated, and perhaps a little bit scared. You probably wouldn’t do such a great job of accomplishing your task, either. Your team deserves to know what’s going on inside your head and what you expect of them. Shared goals create communication and unity. You wouldn’t just hop on a boat without knowing where it was going, so don’t leave your team clueless, either!