A week or so ago I was having a one-on-one coaching session with a client. We had some real breakthroughs and had covered many of the things that his boss wanted me to work with him on. We still had half of our time left and so I asked him if there was anything that he specifically wanted to work on. He asked me about getting more done in a shorter period of time. That lead to how to set goals for the short run, as well as the Big Audacious Goals in business and life. We had a very interesting conversation, so I thought I would share.
The best place to start is with the Big Audacious Goal. What are your goals for your business/department/team? How do you want to grow? Where do you need to be? Or personally, where do you want to go? What do you want to do with your life? This process should take the lion’s share of your goal setting time. Really sit down and think about the answers to these questions and why you want to do them. Here is the secret that most people miss: the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what.’
If you don’t have a strong enough ‘why’ than you will never do what is necessary to get to your ‘what.’ It is just that simple. You can do whatever you put your mind to, but if you do not have your ‘why’ to pull you through the tough times, you will never get there. If it is truly a Big Audacious Goal than it is going to take work, persistence and faith that your business or you can actually get there. Your ‘why’ should be strong enough to give you these three tools.
Now that you have your end goal in mind, start to work backwards. What steps are necessary in order to get to where you want to be? A very useful resource for this is someone who is already where you want to be, or who has taken their business where you want to go. Finding someone who can answer your questions about how they did it will give you a clear view of what it took for them to get to your goal. You might even get very lucky and find a mentor who can help guide you on your path.
There is the concern that you might not have access to someone who has gotten to where you want to be. Perhaps you want to grow a multinational corporation. Maybe you want to create a space flight organization. Maybe you want to be the President of the United States or a Billionaire. Another resource for you could be books and the internet. There are countless books on people who have made it to incredible positions in the world and they clearly lay out how they got there and the pitfalls and challenges that they had along the way.
Once you have started to view a path you then come to setting a more concrete goal or set of goals. Think out six months to one year in the future and decide on realistic goals that you can set to accomplish in that time frame. These goals should have some very distinctive characteristics. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, results driven and time sensitive. The more eagle-eyed among you will notice this creates the acronym for SMART goals.
Finally, the most important step is to write both your Big Audacious Goal and your six month to one year goal down and put it somewhere that you see every day. That way you have to notice it and think about it every day. Earl Nightengale said, “We are what we think about.” If you make yourself think about your goal every single day than you simply cannot help but achieve. Put it on your desk at work, tape it to your bathroom mirror or put it on your dresser. Just make sure that you see it every day.
My wife and I sat down in August of 2010 and did this with each other. We came up with two main goals for our personal financial life. Our Big Audacious Goal was to have twice as much passive income as we had expenses by August 17th, 2020 so that we could choose whether or not we wanted to work. Our one year goal was to purchase our first rental property and have it producing income by August 17th, 2011.
My personal ‘why’ for doing this was my desire for time-control. I want to be able to say where I should be and when I should be there. I want to be able to spend as much time with my wife and kids as I want, and I don’t want a job telling me when I can and cannot do that. I want to see family and friends. I did a lot of soul searching to get to this conclusion and it is a very strong conviction for me.
Now let’s see if our one year goal passed the test for being a SMART goal. It is specific because it is about one area of my life: my financial life. It is measurable in that we said we would have ONE property. All I need to achieve this goal is one property. If I have that, then I have achieved this goal and can work on creating the next goal. Is it achievable? My wife and I had already focused on building capital and educating ourselves. We honestly did not know how to do it, or what all would be involved in it, but we felt it was an achievable goal. Results driven? Yes, we focused on the result or the outcome: buying a property. We did not focus on the activities necessary to get there: talk with people, study, save capital, look at houses, set up a business entity, etc. All of those things are involved in what we decided, but the only thing we focused on for our goal was the result or outcome. Time sensitive? We said our goal was to be achieved by August 17th, 2011. This is one year from when we wrote this goal down on paper.
We did not know everything that was necessary in order to achieve this goal when we decided on it. We did not even know where to go to get the information at the time. Having the goal to focus on made us go out and figure it out. You do not need to know how you are going to get there. You just need to set a specific there to get to.
As of December 22nd, 2011 my wife and I bought our first investment property. It took us longer than we had first guessed it would. But if we had not focused our attention on it, it might never have happened. We are already discussing what we want our goal for the next year to be. I am excited to aim bigger and see how much we can get done through focused goal setting.