Getting a Grip on Your Goals

What happened to those New Year's resolutions you were so excited about on January 1? Our leadership expert has tips to help you refocus on your goals.

The first quarter of the year ends on March 31, and one of two things is likely happening to you. Either you're saying to yourself, "Oh yeah, I still need to set new goals for the company and myself." Or, "Yikes, I haven't done anything I said I'd do this year!"

A lot of businesspeople start out with good intentions: They write down their goals for the year...then stick them in a drawer while they deal with the daily issues that consume their time. Can you tell me what your top three goals are without looking at that piece of paper? Do you even have a piece of paper that outlines your goals this year?

Don't panic--all is not lost. You still have three more quarters left to make a difference in your business. So let's refocus on (or create) your business goals, and find the energy to pursue them.

And it's important to remember that almost everyone stumbles at times when pursuing their dreams. But most of us can find inspiration from leaders whose lessons transcend business. Confucius once said, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." This is as true in business as in life. The question is, how are you going to rise above and reach those goals? How are you going to get and stay motivated?

The first thing to do is to create a "wow" experience for yourself to jumpstart your motivation. So first figure out what your top three forms of motivation are. Then pick your second or third thing and do it! (Don't pick the first thing that comes to mind. It's too easy to think of and too easy to forget.) If you can't think of any, here are some ideas to get your juices flowing:

  • Do something fun. Think about the last really fun thing you did for yourself and do it again!
  • Laugh. It opens the mind to creative thoughts.
  • Spend some time with someone you really like.
  • Listen to a motivational speaker.
  • Play or go see your favorite sport.
  • Do something risky or adventurous.

It's hard to get excited about pursuing goals when you lack the energy. The "wow" moments of your life gives you the energy to get moving again. So pick your second or third "wow" thought and go do it. Then take your newfound energy and refocus on your goals.

Your next step? Stop procrastinating, and create your business goals now. And I mean, right now. By doing it right here and now, you won't have any more excuses! Now, you could create your own, but the ones I'm going to outline will work to get you motivated and moving forward during the next three quarters.

What does every company have in common? No matter what kind of business you're leading, some of the issues you deal with on a daily basis are the same as every other business owner's. All of you will have to deal with money, sales, customers and employees (or vendors, if you're a solo entrepreneur).

Here are three simple but powerfully effective goals that can work for any company:

1. Become a better leader
2. Increase revenues
3. Create happy customers

The power in simplicity is that you can easily remember these goals and keep them in front of you and your team. Plus, they're achievable on a daily basis and transcend into the long term. Under each major heading, you and your team can create the specifics that apply to your business with timelines and details.

But you're not done yet. There's still one step when it comes to goal setting. You've got to stay focused.

Here's an important question to ask yourself and your team three times a day: "Is what I'm doing right now moving me toward one of my goals?" If the answer is no, you know what to do: Fix it and refocus. If the answer is yes, congratulations, you're on track!

Abraham Lincoln, another great leader, once said, "The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just." Your goals will only be real and obtainable if you believe in them with all your heart, pursue them with passion, and rebound from hardships.

Lincoln possessed enormous character and believed passionately in his purpose. Did he fail along the way? Many times. But like all great leaders, he didn't let the fear of failure stand in the way of great achievements. It's important to rise up from your disappointments and not let the possibility of failure stop you from trying again.

Now's the time to set your goals, become a great leader, move forward with faith in the future, and have a smashing second quarter. And don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

Patty Vogan is owner of Victory Coaching, an executive coaching company for business and personal success, and a chairman for the largest CEO organization in the world, TEC International. She has over 15 years of experience in leadership management, team building, marketing and entrepreneurship, and is the author of two books. Her latest book,Waking Up in Tonga, will be available in December 2006.

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