Clear goals, whether financial or quality of life in nature, must pass the S.M.A.R.T. test.
Goals need to be clearly articulated and written down. "Making a lot of money" isn't specific. Making $200,000 is specific. "Having more control over time" is not specific. "Going to 10 of my son's Little League games and 10 of my daughter's dance reciatals this year" is specific.
You have to be able to create a tracking system; a method of keeping score. This lets you know whether or not you are on track and whether you've hit your goals. If your goal is to make $200,000 by the end of the year, on June 30th, you should have earned $100,000 or you may not be on track. On December 31st, you either hit your income goals or you haven't. It isn't open to opinion or speculation.
Using the previous example, if you attend 11 Little League games, you won. If you only went to six, you fell short. It isn't open to interpretation or opinion.
Goals must be considered both possible and worthwhile pursuits, or you won't be motivated to achieve them. For instance, you may say your goal is make $1 million a year, but if you have never made more than $100,000 a year, you may not really see this goal as possible and not take aggressive steps toward achieving it. As a franchisee you may experience a 20-percent increase in sales, but if you think it's going to take working 90 to 100 hours a week to achieve that goal, you may not consider it a worthwhile pursuit. And you won't be motivated to hit this goal.
Goals have to have a deadline, a "by when" date. Goals without a deadline don't inspire commitment. It's human nature not to take action on anything you wish to achieve someday. Think of how long you have thought about starting a franchise. Have you set a deadline as to when you will open? If not, other more urgent activities will take precedent and your dream will be pushed further and further back
If you don't have a deadline as to when you are going to start, then you may have a good intention, but you don't have a plan or a goal. A wise man once said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Good intentions don't make a difference; committed action does. You will never be called forward into committed action without a specific, measurable, attainable, and time-limited goal that's worthy of being achieved. Activities with deadlines attached to them grab your attention and create a sense of urgency and action. For instance, you know you have to get your taxes done by April 15th. If your goal is to get your taxes done on time, April 14th will be a very productive day for you!
Goals with deadlines that are too far out also don't inspire action. Think about something in your life that you wish will occur within the next 20 years. Are you taking action now? Think about when you bought your home. Did you think, "Here is where I'm going to live for the next 30 years!" or did you think, "This home is idea for now." You aren't wired to think more than three to seven years out. Goals with extended timelines are as useless as goals that you want to achieve "someday" because they don't inspire action. With franchising, consider setting long-term goals with a three- to five-year time limit.
This article was excerpted from Street Smart Franchising, which is available from our Entrepreneur Press bookstore.