Every year millions of people set new goals for themselves and their businesses. Unfortunately for the vast majority, their goals and New Year resolutions will fall short. It is not good intentions that is the problem, it is strategy. There are three main flaws that take place when people are not successful when implementing goals.
First, it's an anecdotal challenge. Often people will hear experts or other people who have had success with a particular goal say, "I did it and so can you." The problem with this is that every person is unique in how they think, act, and respond to their external environment. One size doesn't fit all. What worked for someone else may not work for you.
Second, goals are oversimplified. Often organizations and business leaders will call upon their people to use SMART goals. SMART is defined as specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. SMART goals give us a nice sentence but it does not provide a system of implementation. For example, a SMART goal might be to “Increase my revenue by 10% in the next 90 days.” A great sentence but there is no clear method of implementation.
Third, goals need to be tactical. Unsuccessful people have no strategy or model in place and as a result individuals can feel lost. In a Harvard business study, 61% of business owners fail because of poor strategy and execution. Because we are living in a time of great change, our ability to stay focused is compromised due to being inundated by television, radio, social media, blogs, podcasts, magazines, smart phone alerts, advertising, emails, and texting. Without a proper strategy or system of execution, we are setting ourselves up for failure by allowing our environment to dictate what we respond to.
Any goal that is longer than 90 days is a waste of time. Todd Herman once said, “90 days is the horizon to our motivation.” Anything beyond that and it's really hard to get excited and motivated about. Numerous studies confirm this. One study conducted at the USC Mind and Society Center proved that goals beyond 90 days increases the level of procrastination. Another study showed that feedback loops of short-term goals increases motivation and focus in people. In other words, when we set ourselves up for short term wins, we increase our momentum and motivation.
In order to move forward in 2016, it is extremely important to reflect on the past year. While reflection is important throughout the year, it is more important to do a longer analysis of the previous year so that we can learn from it and improve upon it. Here are some of the questions I use to guide my own annual reflection:
What are some of my biggest accomplishments from this past year?
What are some of the lessons I have learned from the past year?
What opportunities did I miss out on this past year?
What do I need to focus on right now that will move me forward in 2016?
When you are able to reflect and gain some clarity from the previous year, it is important to use that information to establish a healthy system for implementing your first 90 day goal. Here's a successful framework you can use:
State Your Outcome: An outcome is what we're ultimately trying to achieve. For example one outcome might be to, “Increase my revenue by 10% by April 1st” or “I want to lose 25 pounds by April 1st” or “I want to write a book by April 1st.” Once your outcome is stated it is something that you need to be firm on. This is something that you should not change as you work to achieve it. Your outcome should be something that excites and motivates you.
Create Your Strategies: Your strategies are essential to your 90 day successful goal. This is where you will determine HOW you will achieve your outcome. You may have two or three strategies for every outcome. The most important thing to do here is to create a 14 day target. This is one of the missing pieces as to why people fail at achieving goals. Choosing a target for every strategy is key because it allows you to have a short-term win and evaluate how things are going. When people do not have an assessment or time to reflect to see if their strategy is working, they end up doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. An example of a strategy using the above examples would be: “I will improve the number of products that I have to sell on my website from one to three in the next 14 days or “I will work out eight times in the next 14 days” or “I will create the outline for my book in the next 14 days.” At the end of the 14 days you will have an opportunity to see if what you are doing is working and adjust and modify your strategy if needed.
Determine Your Actions Steps: Your action steps become the 4 Whys – who, what, when and where. These are the things you can schedule into your daily agenda. This is where all the action takes place. Your actions steps are your day-to-day tasks that you will do to ensure you achieve. Who will do it? What needs to be done? When will it be done? Where will it take place? Using the above examples, your action steps for increasing your revenue by 10% and based on our strategy could be to determine what your new product will be; create the product; create a sales page; determine a budget; work on your website. Action steps that you could take for losing 25 pounds and based on our strategy could be researching fitness centres; scheduling in workout days in my calendar; research different types of exercise programs; create my workout routine. Action steps for writing a book and based on our strategy could be to talk to another author; research methods for creating chapter titles; identify chapter titles; take one hour a day for creative time.
It is always important to share your 90 day success roadmap with someone else who can hold you accountable every week. If you know that you have to report your progress to another individual, it increases the level of urgency in completing your action steps. Once you write down all three phases of this framework, you will have a massive amount of clarity and confidence to move forward. As you can see, when we map out a system that is clear and concise we will set ourselves up for success, as opposed to leaving it to chance. We will begin to lead our “agenda” instead of having the environment (the demands of other people) dictate their “agenda” to us. When we have the right mindset, strategy, and action steps, we will begin to build powerful momentum that will propel us towards achievement.