• Setting Goals That Can Become Reality

    By Bruce Gouin, Owner Birmingham South, AL

    This time of year may seem overwhelming to some, but don’t get discouraged.  If you are setting goals, be they for personal life, fitness & health, relationships, personal finance, & work, start by making a realistic action plan and dream big. Make 2016 a year where goals are achievable.

    Depending on your personality type, you might not categorize setting your annual business goals as exciting or adventurous. The yearly charge of establishing goals can easily become just another mundane task to be completed before Dec. 31. Or, even worse, it can be a demoralizing exercise if you seem to fall short each year. But Daniel Boone, a famous American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman, had a different view of goal setting – one that likened it to establishing a destination. "Having an exciting destination is like setting a needle in your compass,” Boone said. “From then on, the compass knows only one point... And, it will faithfully guide you there through the darkest nights and fiercest storms."

    Boone’s description certainly makes goal-setting sound more appealing, but goals also need to be practical. Doing something just for the sake of doing it is a waste of time – and in today’s business environment, you can’t afford to waste time. As a leader, you have to find a way to create goals that blend the visionary facet with the functional aspect, and there are three key ways you can accomplish that.

    Look Beyond the Goal
    A well-crafted, well-thought-out goal is a wonderful thing, but if you leave it at that, you’re going to fail. A Forbes article from earlier this year explained it like this, “The value of the goal is not the goal itself, but the determination of the action steps most likely to lead to achieving the goal.” You must establish an action plan for each of your goals, and that plan has to incorporate every department and employee in your business.

    This means that you need to go beyond just posting the company goals in the break room and announcing them at the end-of-the-year party. You need to break them down so that each division, each department within those divisions, and each and every employee in those departments have a specific and measurable part to play in achieving the goals. It will require some additional work, as well as cooperation and collaboration among management, but this is the only way to convert your dream into reality.

    Recognize Your Limitations
    In case you haven’t realized it yet, the phrase “you can achieve anything” isn’t completely true. Everyone, and every company, has limitations. A wise leader will recognize this fact, assess both strengths and weaknesses, and then make educated, achievable goals. As that Forbes article pointed out, “Some goals are not achievable.”

    And unachieved goals don’t mean a missing checkmark at the end of the year. When you set goals that have no possibility of being met, you do two things. First, you discourage and disengage everyone in your organization. Second, you put your business at risk by wasting valuable time and resources. The combination of those two consequences is enough to cripple, and even destroy, the best of companies.

    Break It Down
    Once each area and individual in the company has their own unique action plans, you’ll need to break it down even more. “Set your goals incrementally, with short-term plans that take steps toward the larger things you want to complete,” recommends a Fox News Small Business report. That means you pinpoint exactly which tasks are essential to achieving the goals, and then narrow it down to what needs to be accomplished in the year, each quarter, each month, each week, and each day. This is ultimately where the rubber meets the road and how you make your goals realistic and timely.

    Setting goals can result in some amazing accomplishments, but you have to do more than slap your top three wishes on some letterhead. Crafting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely takes effort. The outcome, however, is well worth it. At the very least, you’ll find yourself with more motivated and engaged employees, and, at the very best, you’ll achieve your dreams and enjoy all the rewards that come with them.

  • How To Get Back on Track When Goal Setting Goes Wrong

    By Bruce Gouin, Owner, Express Employment - Birmingham South, AL

    Finding success in life isn’t about hitting every goal you set. Any entrepreneur can tell you that failure is just another step in the journey to success. What’s important is how you react to those failures.

    First, realize that you’re not alone. A survey reported in Inc. magazine revealed that 77 percent of small business owners have yet to reach their vision for their companies.

    Don’t waste valuable time beating yourself up over missed goals. According to a report by Psychology Today, this will lower your energy and feelings of self-worth, making it harder to get back on track.

    To move forward, it’s important to analyze whether poor goal setting is what tripped you up. This is all too common, and according to The Globe and Mail Career Lab series, you’re more likely to succeed if you set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Driven, Timely) goals.

    Drill Down

    According to an article by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, thousands of studies have shown the importance of narrowing your goals to specific, concrete targets.

    So, rather than setting a broad goal, like “achieving better success at work,” set specific benchmarks that are measurable, such as reaching a certain position, or making a target salary or commission. To support this long-range goal, assign yourself medium-term steps, which you’ll need to accomplish to reach your target. Get feedback from your boss or mentor on what you’ll need to achieve to meet this goal, and which stumbling blocks you may have to overcome.

    Keep It Real

    If the only way to make your goal is to work a 70-hour work week for the next year, you are likely going to burn out. Inc. magazine notes that while a challenge is important, if you set goals that are too challenging, you will wind up exhausted and unable to maintain the personal relationships in your life. Fatigue and burnout often lead to mistakes that limit your abilities to achieve your goals.

    Check Your Time

    Once you have your goals in place, it’s essential to align time management with your future plan, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. This will help you determine whether the way you spend your time now is going to allow you to reach your future goals. Look for things that bog you down, distract you or steal time from your objectives.

    The idea is to find any areas of misalignment, and then adjust your workflow or the goal, as needed.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    It’s easier to meet any goal when you have sound advice and guidance from others. In fact, an article by life coach Lesley Knowles notes that accepting help and support from others is essential to success.

    Friends and family can be your greatest cheerleaders and offer helpful encouragement. On the business side, your best bet is to find a mentor who is knowledgeable in your field. A good mentor can help you stay focused on your goals, suggest new strategies you may not have considered, and hold you accountable if you become distracted from your plan. 

    Better goal setting can make a real difference in your ability to overcome roadblocks on your path to success. Before you set your next round of goals, make sure you take a moment to enjoy your success. Celebrate with those who supported your journey. Then, consider which goal setting elements helped you get where you are, and use them to set your vision for the future.