Archive for the ‘Goal Setting’ Category

Birthday Musings and Goal Setting

Posted: September 29, 2010 in Goal Setting

Today is a day that happens every year, yet you can’t hardly imagine that a whole year has gone by since the last one. Another day, another year older (on paper). I always believe that a birthday is a good time for reflection, but also to look forward. In short, it is the best time for goal-setting (as opposed to the New Year when everybody is goal-setting and then subsequently breaking their resolutions). Birthdays are unique, as are people’s own goals, hence the great timing.

I’ll save you my own personal reflection over the last year and talk about goals. This is a topic I will cover in detail at my talk during the Elite Retreat in December.

Any good goal is something that is rooted in process, not towards a particular outcome. Any good goal is not monetarily-based. In other words, I can’t say “by this time next year, I want to make $5 million.” That statement is an outcome, not a goal. Goals need to be much more process-oriented. In other words, if you want to make a lot more money in the next year, there has to be a process by which you can envision going through to get there. That process is the foundation for your goals. The money is the outcome, or a byproduct, as is fame or notoriety – but it is not a goal.

For instance, I could say “I want to be a more well-known business person who is able to lead my company’s marketing activities as well as share his insight with others”. That’s a good goal and one I will work on. However, there are other short term, more specific goals, that would lead me to that ultimate one. I have always done well by setting one ultimate target, backed up by shorter-term targets that act as barometers towards the ultimate destination. Perhaps if I’m dealing with a one year time frame as the ultimate finish line before my next birthday, I’ve got 6 or 12 shorter steps I need to accomplish. If I hit those shorter steps, I will have reached all my goals in the next year without necessarily harping on the long-term scary one, but just by focusing on more achievable shorter term stuff.

This process works very well for athletes, as well as corporations and entrepreneurs. For athletes, it is the reason why there are seasons and specifically off-seasons. It is a time to reflect and reset targets for the following year. For companies, it is the reason why there are monthly or quarterly board meetings or earnings calls. For entrepreneurs, it is how you check your progress in being successful; you can’t get to being an individual success running your business without reaching the goal of building infrastructure and setting up a few processes along the way as a few examples. A restaurant owner can’t say “I want to have the most successful restaurant in the Lower East Side” without several smaller milestones along the way.

Incidentally, the setting of short and long-term goals works equally well personally. The toughest part of goal-setting is envisioning the individual steps along the way towards obtaining your ultimate goal. Having a dream isn’t the holy grail, because lots of people have dreams; being able to see the steps needed to reach your dream is the tough part. I’ve long believed that people who fail (yours truly included) didn’t fail because their dreams were off-kilter or unreachable, they failed because they didn’t identify the shorter-term goals necessary to make their longer-term goals a reality. You need to achieve short-term goals to give yourself a chance, and the confidence, at larger more profound things.

So this year, I will do the same as last year – I will set personal and professional goals for 365 days from now, and 6 shorter term goals for every 2 months. We’ll see if I do as well this year as I did over the last year, perhaps on your next birthday you can do the same.