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Ever wonder how some easily glide through obstacles? How they adroitly conquer one challenge after another? It is less to do with possessing erudite prosperity and rather, an astute faculty to set goals and pursue them.
The thought one puts into crafting goals is completely congruent with accomplishing them. To make it more palatable, think of goals as a simple framework for evaluating your options to better realize your vision of your future self. It may sound daunting and draped in peril; nevertheless, the upside will reveal nirvana.
Still need a boost? Don’t fret. Look no further than your brain‘s internal wiring for the first ripple in your eventual wave of attainment. Neuroscience has shown the mere act of properly setting a goal invests oneself into the target completion zone and sends signals (neurotransmitters) as if we have already accomplished the task at hand. A part of our brain believes, and the desired outcome is now an essential part of our molecular being and sets up a condition to propel us to fulfill the brain’s self-image.
The ACES approach to defining goals
“Goal accomplishers” start by blending what they have thoughtfully concluded will define positive outcomes in their business as well as what pitfalls need to be avoided or which require elimination. The ACES approach is a basic example of this method. ACES stands for achieving what you are trying to accomplish, conserving what is critical to maintain, eliminating what is critical to dispose of and steering away from that which is critical to avoid. Although this will result in a simple matrix for which your goal setting will germinate, each of the buckets needs to be meticulously considered.
Although it is ultimately up to each business leader to determine the goals their company will strive for, those who realize lofty ambitions start with a breadth of input from key stakeholders. Since no great business exists in singularity but instead operates like a living, breathing organism, this approach not only allows for the broadest intellectual capital to be captured by the leader, but upon final determination the company will be closer to a conscience buy-in. This approach also sets the table for shared ownership and takes what can be a wrenching process and creates a more enjoyable one.
This public approach will also shine a light on the varying personalities that arise when change and bold missions are introduced. You will find a portion will respond with enthusiasm, rapidly ready to uphold the inner and outer expectations. Others will resist all expectations either out of fear of failure, lack of control or freedom. Others challenge every goal and seek justification and logic. Lastly, others will accommodate the process regardless of their personal belief to serve others or once they are comfortable with the majority agreeing on the direction. Each of these personalities should be welcomed and embraced, approached in a different manner and with reverence.
Quality vs. quantity
During this phase, all involved must agree that the number of goals is not the beacon for success. Quite the contrary, as it has been proven, more is not more. It is better to focus on the few and bold that make positive change and then ensure all focus and energy is directed toward the most important.
It is not enough to set the “what” in the goal; accomplishers also thoughtfully and meticulously attach the “how” required to galvanize the succession. To unlock the sense of purpose and accompanying energy, you need to properly articulate the intention of the goal and the necessary steps for effective change. By way of example, you may be setting a business goal to improve your EBITDA margin by 2X. However, if one does not define, articulate, and place actionable tactics and directives, specified key performance indicators (KPI’s), and be accountable, measured, and nimble along the way the road to prosperity will be a dead end. Anything that matters must be measured, and your goals should matter most.
Moreover, “Goal accomplishers” arrange their goals in various buckets such as “most impactful” or “immediate,” or “short and long-term.” Another way to bucket the goals is to categorize them into the sum of the parts and the parts of the sum. Even if ultimately all goals lather up to the overarching company success, for that to be achieved, each goal can be further bucketed. An example of this further goal categorization includes day-to-day development, problem-solving, customer/client acquisition, innovation, and financial.
Humans, even innovators, are not afraid of concrete objectives. On the contrary, we welcome the roadmap as long as we have the fragility to layer in personal perspectives without fear of consequences. Accomplishers triumph because they clearly define the necessities for an outcome, thus taking the goals from a linear monolith to a more efficient and active bond.
“Goal accomplishers” become so by making strategic tradeoffs. They consciously sequence their efforts to provide a higher degree of success over the long term and fight the internal setting that attempts to do everything at once. Additionally, they understand the intrinsic value each goal maintains accreditive to the sustained objective and thus tackle each in the appropriate progression.
Goals are not immovable forces
Accepting and welcoming goals as fungible milestones rather than immovable forces allows for consistent evaluation and resetting of priorities and capabilities. This perspective of alteration is not viewed as a punishable offense but an act of supremacy. In short, the road to the destination may change, but the destination remains concrete. “Goal accomplishers” will not negotiate on goal completion and visualize the outcomes daily; they verbalize them to themselves and remind others of the unwavering objective. “Goal accomplishers” do not use this approach as a level-down acceptance of not meeting a goal or an excuse to eliminate. Rather often, the goal was not far-reaching enough, and they can level up even further.
Lastly, “Goal accomplishers” adopt two mindsets and equally stay present in each. The first is at the start during the high growth mindset of the goal while focusing the organization on maintaining the long-term habits needed for accelerated growth. The second is the low-growth mindset, where ongoing deliberate efforts can become viewed as mundane and can potentially calcify poor habits. The leader must inject consistent consideration and inject enthusiasm and assurance throughout.
Goals are not arbitrary nor daunting. They must be deliberate and celebrated. As humans and as part of the organizations in which we work, our capacity to strive for and achieve more is highly attainable. It all comes down to the goals, input and output.