Setting Goals – Part I

Planning for Business Success (Part 1 of 2)

In chapter six of Lewis Carroll’s book Alice in Wonderland, Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat and asks him for directions. They engage in a conversation that illustrates the relationship between your goals and the direction your travel. Alice begins with her question to the Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?””That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.”I don’t much care where—” said Alice.”Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.”—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.”Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

If a ship gets off-course by even one degree, its final destination will change completely. Perhaps there are captains who travel the vast expanse of the ocean with no final destination in mind; these individuals, like Alice, are in it for the ride and don’t care where they land, as long as they land somewhere. But as the Cheshire Cat points out, it doesn’t take any effort at all to get somewhere. You can wonder aimlessly for years and still arrive somewhere. But those who want to arrive at a specific destination must have a plan, and follow a very specific course.Man stands on ladder to better see the horizon.If you’re a small business owner without goals, you are certain to arrive somewhere. Of course, that somewhere may be in a lawyer’s office, filing for bankruptcy. Perhaps it will be back at a full-time job, drudging away to help your employer become more profitable. Successful business owners don’t often land a successful business without any previous thought or intention. Arriving at that destination requires you to make thoughtful goals and then steer your business in that direction.Here are 5 tips on setting a successful business course by setting some specific goals:

1. Determine what you want.

It’s difficult to hit a target if you don’t know what it is. Where, exactly, do you want your business to go? If you’ve just been hoping that it survives, chances are that’s what your business has been doing for awhile: barely surviving. It’s time to change that, and the first step you must take is to imagine what you want.

2. Define your goals.

In his book, Attitude is Everything, Paul J. Meyer explains that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Tangible. Remembering this will help you to define your goals in such a way that you will be more likely to achieve them. Next week we’ll examine how you go about creating SMART goals.As you define your goals it’s also important that you base them on your values. Wanting to become a kazillionaire may be an appealing goal, but unless that goals aligns with your values, you’re going to loose yourself in the chase. As you list your goals, list your values as well and see if they correspond. For example, perhaps you value spending quality time with your family. You may also have a goal to create a business that functions more independently. This goal and value are complimentary.

3. Write them down.

You are 70% more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. It’s also easier to plan and assess your success if you can return to this goal often. That’s easier to do if you’ve written it down somewhere.

4. Envision them.

Imagine yourself accomplishing this goal, and include all the specifics. What would it look like? What would it feel like? The more often you envision the accomplishment of your goals, the quicker you will find them becoming your reality.

5. Return to them often.

Don’t just write your goals down and stuff them into a file somewhere. Make them something you return to often. You should look over them every time you make a critical business choice. You should use them to motivate and inspire you when life gets stressful. This will enable you to take the steps necessary to accomplish them.Alice was not a small business owner in Wonderland, and neither are you. In order to reach a significant destination in this day and age you need to chart a course to get there. Goal setting is the first step to take in mapping your success. And it’s absolutely necessary for those of you going somewhere important, somewhere specific.