I just got back from a business trip in Atlanta where I sat through a marketing conference with about 700 doctors and another 4,000+ members of their staff. It was pretty massive, to say the least. The event even had two celebrities in attendance; Bill Rancic, the season one winner of The Apprentice (the only season worth watching, if you ask me), and country singer legend Trace Adkins—who spoke briefly before performing a full-blown concert. In addition, the conference hosts gave away a Jeep, a Mercedes, and a Ferrari. One lucky attendee won a private plane ride home, and hundreds of dollars were rolled into shirts and shot from t-shirt guns into the crowd. As if that wasn’t enough, the organizer set a goal of raising $100,000 to give to Wounded Warriors, and then matched the 100k for a total of over $218,000 donated!
Of course, in between all the fun and entertainment, there were also some educational portions. And one of the topics was goal-setting. I would crown myself an expert on goal-setting, but just like any subject, there is always more to learn. I managed to get a golden nugget out of this presentation, and I want to share it with all of you, but before I do, I need to give you a bit of a backstory.
I am a goal-driven person. I enjoy making goals as much as I enjoy achieving them. With that in mind, I don’t like to make easy goals, just to achieve them. To me, that’s just not satisfying. I have a process I go through for making goals—and it starts long before I ever sit down and put the pen to the paper.
First, I start with an outline. In my outline, I want to focus on the following:
- Stuff I Don’t Want To Do – This is simply a list of tasks I’m currently responsible for that I either shouldn’t be, because the task is below my pay grade, or it’s task I am not interested in doing.
- My Weaknesses – For those of you who have been long-time readers, it may be difficult for you to imagine that I have weaknesses, but there are a few.
- My Strengths – This is a list of the things I am really good at and/or really enjoy doing.
- Company Strengths – What are we, as a company, really good at?
- Opportunities – This is exactly what it sounds like; what opportunities are available for both me and the company?
- Major Issues – These are usually areas of improvement. For example, right now one of our major issues is clients that take longer than usual to complete their first newsletter edition. On average it takes 3.5 weeks to take a new client from start to finish. When a client takes seven or more weeks to get there, it’s bad for both the client and the company.
- Dollars and Cents – Finally, I create the monetary/client goals.
Once I have all this information, I can work backwards to achieve my monetary and client goals. I start by looking at my strengths; are there any areas to leverage? Is there an area where I/we can invest in that strength and grow the business even more?
Next I review new opportunities. These opportunities can be anything from new media I want to work with to a new product I want to develop. Since not all new opportunities will work out, I tend to estimate very conservatively.
From there, I take a look at my weaknesses and try to figure out how to turn them into strengths. Sometimes this means I have to hire/outsource work or projects, but I always want to improve on areas where I am weak, even if that improvement means moving it off my plate and on to someone else’s—someone who is better at that task. I have created an entire business out of having people move their newsletter off of their plate and on to mine.
After that, I go on to major issues. These don’t always relate back to an easily trackable monetary outcome, but as a person and a business owner, I want to fix anything I would categorize as a major issue. I always get input on major issues form my team; when I ask for feedback, I am looking for both major issues in the business, but also issues I have. You can’t fix problems you don’t know about and I guarantee that everyone has issues, personally or professionally, that they could work on.
This next step is my one my favorites; I take my list of “stuff I don’t want to do” and make a plan to remove as much of it as possible form my plate. I have yet to be able to remove everything from the list, but I am able to cross a number of items off when I am done, which makes my overall life happier.
Finally, I make sure that all the new opportunities, maximizing of strengths, minimizing of weaknesses, and estimated normal amount of new clients/business I will get throughout the year will enable me to hit my “dollars and cents” goal. Once all the math adds up, I move on to an action plan.
My action plan is a list of all the major tasks I need to accomplish in order to achieve my goals. After this list is complete, I look for two things. First, who can I assign some/all of a task to? And second, what are the top few things that can be completed quickly? I waste no time taking action on those items.
I mentioned earlier that I had learned something new at the conference I attended, and here it is: you need to make sure you don’t achieve all your goals without having new ones ready to take their place. Few people are successful at/happy with doing nothing with their lives. Last year, I achieved every major goal I had by Oct 10th and sat around for two weeks in a funk—I had no reason to keep working hard! Finally, I made some new goals and, like magic, the funk was lifted. This is not a new concept for me but instead a good reminder. If you have ever been in a funk after achieving goals, don’t sit around for the New Year… just make some new goals.
P.S. – Don’t forget to take a moment and pat yourself on the back when you do achieve your goals, you deserve it!