Have you ever wondered why…
- New Year's resolutions rarely last beyond the middle of January?
- it's so hard to break a habit?
- your good intentions always seem to get lost in the general rush of everyday life?
The reasons are usually lack of time and lack of focus.
When you run a business, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges and lose sight of the bigger picture. Setting clear goals can help you stay focused on what you want to achieve — both in business and in your personal life — and use your time and resources more effectively.
Why are goals so important?
In 1921 Dr Lewis Terman of Stanford University began a landmark study of over 1,500 gifted children, all with an IQ of 'genius'. The objective was to better understand the relationship between human intelligence and achievement.
After studying the children for decades, Terman found that IQ is not the most important ingredient for success. Three other factors are far more important than pure intelligence:
- a tendency to set goals
Here we look at the third and most important point (even for geniuses), and suggest ways for you to start setting effective goals.
Where do I start?
The following broad guidelines will help you to set meaningful goals.
- Make each goal a positive statement — it's better to say 'respond to emails promptly' than 'don't ignore emails'.
- Be precise — include dates, times and amounts so that you can measure your achievement.
- Set priorities — this helps to direct your attention to the goals most important to you, and stops you feeling overwhelmed.
- Write your goals down — this makes them more real and helps you stick to them.
- Keep low-level goals small — by setting yourself small goals each day, you'll be more likely to achieve them and feel that you're making progress.
- Focus on performance, not outcome — make sure your goals depend on personal performance, rather than external factors you have no control over.
- Be realistic — think about what's really involved in each goal so you don't set yourself impossible targets, and don't let other people set unrealistic goals for you.