Several years ago, I attended a conference of business professionals where I was asked a simple question that ultimately had a major impact on my life and that of my family. The presenter asked everyone in the audience to write down one major accomplishment they would like to achieve within five years. After everyone had committed the overall goal to paper, he asked us the following question, “What will stop you from achieving this goal?” What was interesting was that he didn’t ask how we could achieve the goal, rather he wanted us to clarify the reason or reasons why it would not happen.
I reflected on his question for some time and then listened as he pointed out the difference between dreams and goals The first thing I came to understand was that dreams and goals are not the same thing. Goals can lead to results whereas dreams most often lead to frustration. What’s the reason? Dreams are all about the destination whereas goals are about the journey. Also, for goals to be effective, they must be realistic and well defined.
How can we learn to set goals that will make the difference between success and failure? I believe the answer is a step-by-step process.
- Believe in yourself. Ultimately, success will be on your shoulders, so you must believe in your own abilities.
- Visualize the process. Achieving long-term success is a journey or process and your goals must be achievable. You should be able to visualize yourself completing not only the long-term goal, but the smaller micro goals that are the foundation for success.
- Put it on paper. If you don’t write it down, you won’t remember it, and if you don’t remember it, you won’t accomplish it. Be specific as to what you are going to do, how you’re going to do it, and when you intend to accomplish it.
- Commit yourself to action. This step is fundamental to success in business. Unless you are committed to the process and taking regular, consistent action you are ultimately committing yourself to failure.
- Remain focused on micro goals. Micro goals are best described as the individual activities required for success. Yes, you have a long-term goal, but you must remain focused on the individual assignments necessary to achieve that long-term goal.
- Follow a plan of action. Your plan of action must be specific and should be written down on paper. Once you have recorded what you are going to do, you must remain focused on doing it.
- Adopt a review it now attitude. If you want to see success happen on a daily basis, review your action plan daily. Make yourself accountable to your action plan by reviewing what you have accomplished, what you still need to do, and an up-to-date timetable for accomplishing the tasks.
Most entrepreneurs have heard of setting SMART goals. I have been fortunate to see countless individuals change their lives by setting realistic goals and then achieving success when the SMART acronym is applied.
- Specific – Write down the specific tasks to be completed along with a detailed account of how you intend to accomplish the goal. It should clearly detail what you are going to do.
- Measurable – If the goal is well written, you should be able to measure how it was done, when it was accomplished and the final result.
- Attainable – You must be able to achieve the goal. Once again, micro goals with concrete objectives must be part of your SMART goal program. If you lack specific talents or education, then add micro goals that allow you to develop those talents. In my role at Response, I have witnessed individual after individual develop real estate talents that allowed them to achieve or attain their micro goals.
- Results – Your goals must be results-oriented. As you review your individual goals, you must evaluate the results themselves, not just the activity participated in.
- Time Bound – Your goals should be tied to realistic time frames that stretch your abilities.
When I was in Europe I visited Picasso’s museum in Barcelona. I was amazed at the achievements of Pablo Picasso as an artist. His quote on goals explains how he was able to accomplish so much during his life, and I believe it can be a roadmap for how to achieve success today instead of experiencing failure. Picasso said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Your ability to set realistic SMART goals and then to follow through with a well-designed action plan will determine the difference between success and failure.