Having goals and creating plans to achieve those goals is all part of obtaining success in business. But sometimes our goals don't always come to fruition. When our goals don't come together the way we planned, we usually make one of two choices: Fold our cards, get disheartened and never return to that desire again, or we pick ourselves back up and take inventory of the moment to continue the pursuit with an energized new approach.
Here are seven steps to help you get moving again after a failure:
1. Set real, specific goals.
It’s important to be specific. If you don’t write down what you intend to do and when you want it done, you give your mind a blank check -- to write in whatever is comfortable or convenient at that moment.
“Lose some weight” is not a goal. It’s what you want to do. Losing muscle will achieve that, so will dehydrating yourself. If you do five jumping jacks, you’ll lose some weight. If you do any of these things, did you really get what you want?
In 1981, George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham wrote an article that appeared in Management Review. It’s the first use of the term SMART goal. If your goal is…
…then the goal gets done.
Do 30 minutes of cardio on the gym treadmill, three times per week, until June 20th, by which you plan to have lost 15 pounds That’s a goal.
What about business? What if your goal is to get more customers? A SMART version of that goal is: Within the next 30 days, find and gain two more customers who have the same needs and budgets as your current two highest paying clients.
Next time you rewrite your goals, turn the items you want into SMART goals.
2. Drop the baggage.
You’re probably upset with yourself for not achieving some of your goals already. This may be your second or tenth attempt. It’s time to forgive yourself for the past so it won’t drag you down in the future.
Remember, you hopefully did the best you could with the knowledge, awareness, priorities and skills you had at that time. Emergencies can happen, and some are so big they can shift your priorities. Occasionally, a more attractive opportunity comes around that causes you to chase after it in place of an older goal.
Perhaps a few goals were based on an outdated version of your ideal life and that vision has changed. Most of these things aren’t worth calling "failures." Should they weigh you down? I don’t think so.
3. Reverse engineer your end goal.
It’s easy to set a big goal and run for several days on the high that comes from taking such a bold action. After that, the goal starts to get heavy and difficult to actually achieve.
Reverse engineering is about finding smaller goals that you can achieve -- goals that will result in achieving your big goal in the end.
If you have to earn $10,000 per month by the end of a year, first figure out how to get four high-paying clients that can pay $2,500. That’s a lot more achievable than $10,000.
Set a goal to figure out who these clients are. Send a few emails asking to talk and find out what they want. A few emails are less intimidating than trying to earn $10,000 a month.
Once you land a client, you can duplicate it until you have $10,000. After that first client, you’re just repeating what you’ve already done. There’s very little new territory from there.
4. Have a vision for the future that's always looking you in the face.
This is best done right after you set your SMART goals. What will your life look like when you achieve your goal? It’s time to have a description (or pictures) of what that future looks like. Post that document in three places: Your bedroom, bathroom and office wall.
These constant reminders can help focus your thoughts in the right direction.
5. Shrink the tasks as small as they have to be.
Your goal may be too big to work on. But it can be broken into smaller parts. You can do these parts today. This looks a lot like reverse engineering, but it’s even more fine-tuned. You’re looking for steps that take less than 15 minutes to do.
For example: If you don’t know how to price your products, you can send a project proposal to your competition to see how they do it (just don’t use your company email).
6. Reward yourself for any job well done.
Rewards make things fun. Set rewards for each task you accomplish.
If you have the money, spend some on yourself. If you don’t, do something simple, like treating yourself to your favorite food out, walking the dog or calling your partner. If you're the only one in the office, loudly congratulate yourself. Go nuts. You deserve it.
7. Be accountable.
Accountability is something that many people can’t achieve anything without. For some people, that means having a friend who will call you once a week to make sure you’re on track.
For others, it can mean establishing a "punishment" for failure -- something that's big enough to be uncomfortable, but small enough so it won’t wipe you out.
Implementing any of these steps should improve your success rate at achieving your goals. They’ll get you going again if you’ve fallen off track. Putting all into practice can make you a goal-achieving machine.