Successful entrepreneurs are usually driven, and highly focused on some specific goal, such as being the dominant player in a given domain or the low-priced provider of their product. Yet other entrepreneurs will talk for hours about all their ideas, and how they intend to change the world, but I don’t hear any specific goals or milestones being set.
Many people are very hesitant to set specific goals, due to something like lack of self-confidence or some other insecurity. The result is that they don’t advance anywhere because they never really knew where they wanted to go. If you find yourself in this category, try the following simple steps highlighted by Brian Tracy in No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline.
- Decide exactly what you want. If you want to increase your income, establish a specific amount of money, rather than just a vague goal like, “make more money.” Without precise goals, you can’t measure progress, and you miss the real satisfaction of knowing when to declare success.
- Write it down. A goal that is not written down is like cigarette smoke; it drifts away and disappears. It is vague and insubstantial. It has no force, effect or power. It’s too easy to forget or push aside when outside forces arise that you hadn’t anticipated – and they will. On the other hand, most people don’t hesitate to write down excuses.
- Set a deadline with specific milestones. Pick a reasonable time period and write down the date by which you want to achieve the milestone. If it is a big enough goal, set intermediate milestones for measurement reference points along the way. The rule is, “There are no unrealistic goals; there are only unrealistic deadlines.” Don’t be afraid to change the deadline – for a just cause.
- Make a list of things you need to do to achieve your goal. The biggest goal can be accomplished if you break it down into enough small steps. Make a list of obstacles and difficulties, knowledge and skills required, necessary people and everything you will have to do to meet the goal. As you learn more about what it takes to achieve your goal, add to these lists.
- Organize your list by both sequence and priority. A list organized by sequence requires that you decide what you need to do and in what order. A list organized by priority enables you to determine what is more important. Then develop a business plan, which embodies all of the above.
- Take action on your plan immediately. Don’t delay. Move quickly. Procrastination is the thief of time, and it shortens your life. Winners in life take the first step now. They are willing to overcome their normal fear of failure and disappointment. They take one small step, then another and continue until they reach their goal.
- Do something every day that moves you in the direction of your major goal. This is the key step that will guarantee your success. Do something every day that moves you at least one step closer to the goal. In this fashion, you develop momentum, which further motivates, inspires and energizes you. Soon it becomes automatic and easier.
You can’t control the future, and that’s not the purpose of setting goals. It’s also a recipe for failure to assume that the path to your goal will require suffering and sacrifice. In fact, the whole objective of all of the steps listed above is to help you avoid stress and suffering, and be more fully motivated by your progress.
As you adopt a goal-setting mindset, you will find yourself setting different kinds of goals. These are lifetime goals, not just a collection of near-term objectives. It’s these really big objectives, that seem unachievable right now, that will inspire you the most, and motivate you to real success and happiness.