By Chuck Sink
Goals are fine but I gave up traditional goal setting awhile ago. Then I started surpassing some of my goals. Similarly, I realized sales forecasting is no more than a snapshot of last year with a wish list on top.
Maybe you’ve heard, “When setting your goals, aim for the stars, and if you miss, you’ll at least hit the moon.” Are you setting the stars as your goal this year, hoping for the moon? Maybe you should allow yourself another 9 – 10 years because that’s what it actually took an entire country following JFK’s lofty national goal in 1961 of landing a man on the moon.
If your sales were $200,000 last year and you make your goal $1,000,000 this year with the same apparatus, your’re probably just seeing pie in the sky.
My opinion about business goal setting is that it’s overrated. Time spent on calculating goals, also known as “guestimating,” could be better spent executing a disciplined work process day by day, week by week. Valuable (billable) work leads to business goal achievement.
Here’s the raw deal with goals: They are attempts at predicting the future and controlling outcomes. Those of you who practice the habits of predicting and controlling know well the feelings of restlessness and discontent. You cannot control the motives and actions of others and we all need others to assist us in accomplishing our goals. Therefore, no matter how well you conceptualize, strategize, plan and execute, you may be just as likely to fall short of your goals as to achieve them. The whims of the marketplace and dynamic nature of the future will largely determine where you will be in the next couple of years.
As the future is unpredictable, so is everything that happens between the time a goal is set and it’s future deadline. There is a way to take advantage of this reality. Let one of your major goals be to positively participate in your market’s dynamics every day.
Let’s say you spent the day setting the precise numbers you want to achieve, conceiving a detailed picture of the exact tangible results you desire, setting and scheduling time limits, developing strategies and creating detailed master plans to accomplish your goals by the specified dates. Oh yeah, you would also need to spend some time on forecasting, planning and devising your key metrics. Then each week or month you took time to analyze your progress and adjust your strategy. I could spend that same day and subsequent time actually performing work that generates revenue. At least for that day and those follow up times, I’d be advancing toward my goals while you were just thinking about them (even if writing it all down). I’d be taking advantage of and learning from the dynamics of the market while you were trying to formulate the future according to your desires (or your boss’s).
As you learn new things each day from participating in your business, you can use this information to make nimble adjustments that help your customers or allow you to touch more prospects. This process is known as a feedback loop and it can be very powerful.
What is your system for success? More emphasis should be placed on your system according to an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine.
Systems versus goals. What is your system for producing successful results? James Clear makes my points clear. In a recent article he explains the difference between goals and systems:
“What’s the difference between goals and systems?
- If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
- If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
- If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
- If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.
“Now for the really interesting question: If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
“For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results? I think you would.”
Mr. Clear goes on in the article to explain how too much focus on goals can have negative consequences on one’s outlook and mood. Mr. Clean clearly agrees.