One of the primary reasons 92% of people fail to achieve their goals is because they’re not tied up with their WHY. Hence why it’s so effing important to align your goals with what really matters to you—your passions and purpose!
This applies especially to entrepreneurs. Setting goals is an essential part of running a successful business, as it provides direction and focus, helping you achieve your objectives. But, setting vague goals is ineffective and does not help you measure your progress.
Even though your reasons to accomplish your goals are fueled with plenty of motivation, there’s a science to the achievement of them. Why? Because most goals are multifaceted and complex to execute on.
Hence having a proven goal setting framework, process and support network (e.g. an accountability coach) can be extremely impactful for the likelihood of success in realizing your goals.
A recommended way for you to get started with setting lofty, yet realistic and achievable goals, is to leverage the well-established S.M.A.R.T. framework.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. There have been various interpretations of this model since it was first introduced in the early 1980s, but the version below works well for our purposes.
Each component of the SMART acronym is essential in ensuring your goals are realistic and can be achieved within the timeframe you set. Here’s how to establish SMART goals as an entrepreneur:
Be clear and concise about your goal-setting. Define these parameters at a level of detail so that nothing is left to coincidence. This will help you eliminate generalities and guesswork because you’re forced to investigate and research HOW, WHEN and with the help of WHO you’ll cross the finish line.
Having a clear timeline broken down into realistic and attainable objectives within a certain timeframe, makes it significantly easier to track your progress and identify missed milestones as you progress towards your end-goals.
As Confucious once said “When it’s obvious the goal can’t be reached, don’t adjust the goal, adjust the actions.”
Your entrepreneurial goals must be specific and unambiguous. Vague goals are hard to achieve because you won’t know if you’ve reached them. Specific goals should start with a verb and explain exactly what you want to accomplish.
For instance, “I want to increase my social media followers by 10% in three months.” or “I want to land 10 new clients next month”. Both goals are specific and have a defined outcome along with a deadline. One of the key benefits of doing this is it becomes easier to visualize the outcome and therefore track your progress.
Measurable goals help you gauge your success by establishing criteria for measuring progress. Your goals should quantify what you want to achieve, making it easier to track them.
For example, “I will generate $350,000 in revenue next fiscal year.” The goal has a specific target and a quantifiable outcome, which helps in tracking progress.
And measurable means just that. Set up regular touchpoints to take the pulse of each goal to assess how you are doing against plan.
Entrepreneurs are all driven by big dreams. But it’s key to not focus on large, complex goals that can’t be expressed as a specific plan. That’s your vision and requires a separate different workflow to realize.
Setting goals that are too lofty can be demotivating, leading to frustration and failure. Your goals should be ambitious but attainable as well.
Consider your resources, skills, and current position when setting your entrepreneurial goals. For instance, if you’re a startup, setting a goal to generate $1 million a year may not be feasible.
Segment your overall goals into manageable sections so you can continue to build on each smaller achievement.
Keep an open perspective on new angles and opportunities that present themselves.
Use new information and insights to adjust as you work your way towards your goals.
Entrepreneurial goals must align with your business objectives and mission. Goals that are irrelevant to your business ultimately jeopardize your overall strategy, wasting time, and resources.
Before you establish your goals, ensure they align with your long-term business plan.
Time-based goals give you a clear deadline for completion, helping to create a sense of urgency. Time-bound goals help in setting priorities and aid in measuring progress.
For example, “I will increase my sales by 10% within the next quarter.” This goal has a deadline, which helps you to prioritize your resources and track progress.
Write YOUR Goals Down
Establishing SMART goals is essential for every entrepreneur. The goals should provide a clear direction for achieving specific objectives, be measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. SMART goals help entrepreneurs to evaluate their progress, stay motivated, and improve success rate.
Writing down your goals is critical both to better define your thoughts as well as to keep track of progress. These written documents will serve you well as a reminder of your priorities and as a map of your route to fulfilling your intentions.
I’ve developed the Goals Grit and Greatness Planner to help entrepreneurs set, write down, monitor and achieve their SMART Goals. I designed it with a structure that allows you to define your goals and monitor them on a periodic basis based on SMART goal-setting principles.
Are SMART Goals Dumb?
Mark Murphy of Leadership IQ has developed a very interesting critical review of SMART goals, Are SMART Goals Dumb? His research shows that for people to achieve great things, their goals and objectives must require them to learn new skills and leave their comfort zone.
Murphy says this is quite the opposite of what SMART Goals tell us (i.e., goals should be achievable and realistic, etc.). SMART goals was developed forty years ago when the command and control model was still in force, and does not perfectly map to today’s fast-paced digital innovation model.
His research shows that people are happier when they’re pursuing effective goals that will lead to big and significant achievements (related to the concept of a stretch goal)
People who set difficult goals are 34% more likely to love their jobs. And top executives are about 64% more likely to set difficult or audacious goals. Whereas frontline employees and junior managers are more likely to enjoy the traditional status quo.
Setting a smart goal with its specific deadlines and action plan won’t motivate employees without a deep feeling of urgency for this objective.
Additionally, employees who use visuals to describe their goals are 52% more likely to love their job than people who describe their goal with one word or number.
Murphy’s analysis is that much of the time, SMART Goal-setting actually acts as a blocker to, not an enabler of, bold action. “Don’t push beyond your resources or bite off more than you can chew,” SMART Goals strongly suggest with their achievable and realistic guidelines.
SMART goals push us to play it safe and stay within our limitations. And encouraging mediocre and poor performance isn’t smart, it’s dumb.
Leadership IQ developed an alternative model called HARD Goals defined as Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult. These goals have emotional connection, strong visualization, great urgency and difficulty.
Whichever approach suits your business best, adopting a consistent framework for goal setting is a positive differentiator for success.
Time to Execute Your Goals
Lastly, it’s all about execution! You just spent 6 minutes reading this post but it’s all gone to waste if you don’t put it into practice.
Like one of my all time favorites Jim Rohn famously said: ”Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action”.
So grab your pen & planner, jot down your goals and take massive action until you crush em’!