Each month, Toronto Business Times solicits expert opinions on a question of relevance to the small business community. This month’s question is about goal-setting.
By Khalid Mokhtarzada
Setting and chasing goals is like a game. And if you’re going to win, you’re going to have to get familiar with the variables, the rules, and your position.
There are two types of goals: absolute goals and range goals. Absolute goals are basically if-and-if-not statements. For example, you can set an absolute goal to reach your flight on time. Range goals are ones you work towards. You might only achieve 90 per cent of your sales target, but will still be very satisfied with your efforts.
I’m just as optimistic as the motivational guru next door, but if you’re 45, overweight, and blind in one eye, your goal to be the next world figure skating champion might not be the right goal for you. Be honest with yourself and set goals that make sense.
Actions versus outcome
Focus on actions, not on the mountain ahead of you. By doing so, you’ll have a better chance at building momentum and will also collect enough data to review your efforts and then optimize for better results.
Don’t wait until the last stretch to see how close you are. Continuous review will keep you on track and will also identify future bottlenecks, obstacles and pitfalls. You cannot improve what you do not measure.
By stepping back and reviewing your progress on regular basis, you can adjust and optimize your plan and, if need be, modify your goal.
Write it down
The first principle, a basic one, is to write down your goal. Place it somewhere visible to read before you retire at night and to see first thing in the morning. This might seem hokey to some, but achieving great results sometimes requires weird and obsessive behavior.
It has become increasingly difficult to focus in our hyper-multi-tasking society. Those with laser focus have a great advantage. Keeping your target (goal) in sight requires dedication. A few minutes of meditation or reading your goals each day can go a long way.
Keep studying and learning
So you didn’t reach your goal...It’s OK. Most ambitious people don’t.
Too often, we beat ourselves up over not achieving our goals. This is unproductive and sets dangerous emotional associations with the goal-setting process. We allow ourselves to believe that goal setting can lead to failure and pain.
An important rule of thumb
If you’re achieving 100 per cent of your goals, you’re not setting your sights high enough. Goals are meant to be guides in our journey toward being better and doing better. They should stretch you, make you a bit nervous, keep you excited at night and pump you up in the morning.
Failure is great
The greatest achievers in life have dealt with their share of major failures. Don’t be afraid to set big goals. Stay positive, stay motivated and fight hard. In the end, even if you don’t achieve all of your goals, the pursuit will be worth it.
Khalid Mokhtarzada is the founder and CEO of Pixel Dreams, a strategy, branding and design agency.