Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Goal Posts, Part III -- Plan for Success

or, Hallmarks of an Achievable Goal

I've been doing what I call "vision work" with a friend and client. She is in the process of starting a non-profit and is working to determine what her Big Picture plan is.

I believe in the importance of branding (or knowing exactly what hole your services fill). Vision work is a way to help find what it is about a business that really drives you. Articulating your vision makes it fairly easy, then, to develop a means of branding the business so it connects with others who share your passions.

Goals are an essential part of vision work. In my experience, not all goals are created equally.

Some goals are too fuzzy. ("I want to make the world a better place".)

Some goals are unwieldy. ("I want to create a compound that, when added to normal drinking water, alters the human genome in such a way that it eliminates selfishness, thus making the world a better place.")

Some are too complicated. ("I want to add the anti-selfishness compound that I have created and patented to the water supply of the entire world. I will do this by inventing a cloud-seeding process that will impregnate rain clouds with specially coated pods that will, via a timed-release mechanism, disperse the compound into the atmosphere. That will complete Phase I...")

And some are impossible. I don't mean impossible in a "they said it couldn't be done" way. I mean making someone else responsible for achieving your dreams is impossible. And irresponsible.

In my experience, goals that inspire people to achieve them share three hallmarks. When making goals -- whether for the week, the month, the year, the book, or the business -- I counsel clients to do the following:

1.) Clearly articulate the goal.

If you can't say it, you can't see it.

"I want this book to be a bestseller" is not a clearly articulated goal. There are too many undefined areas. For instance:

Do you want the book to be a bestseller for the publisher? If so, what does that entail? Do you want it to be in the Top 10 sales of books published in the same year? Or in the Top 10 of all of their other published books including their backlist?

Do you want it to be a bestseller on Is making the Top 100 a goal? Or do you want to make the Top 10 of a particular genre? How long is "long enough" to qualify? updates their bestseller lists hourly. Is hitting the #10 slot for an hour adequate? Or do you want to maintain the position for a certain amount of time?

Do you want it to be on the New York Times bestseller list? This list is compiled very differently than Amazon's list. Being a bestseller on one doesn't guarantee being a bestseller on another.

"I'll take whatever one I can get," I've had clients say. If they're close enough to me at the time, I finger-ping them in the head.

No one -- but NO one -- will just give you a bestseller. They are not lying on the table like brochures available for you to "take." You want bestseller status? You must work for it.

Knowing what your goals are tells you where to focus your efforts so you improve your chances of success. The more specific the goal, the better your plan of action -- and the greater your chances are of achieving it.

2.) Tell others about your goal and get them involved.

Friends and family love to lend support. Their involvement also keeps the goal before you and makes you accountable.

For a specific suggestion on how to use Charitable Accountability to involve your supporters in helping you reach your goals for this year, see my Goal Posts, Part II post from earlier this month.

3.) Make meeting the goal entirely your responsibility.

My goal cannot be contingent on someone else for its realization, because then it is too easy to blame other people if the goal is not met. As I mentioned earlier, it is also impossible for me to control someone else's actions. Therefore, any goal that hinges upon someone else is inherently flawed.

For instance, "I will get an agent in 2010" is contingent on someone else deciding to sign me. But I can't MAKE someone make that decision. However, I can do everything in my power to find the right people and present myself to them. A goal like, "every month, I will research at least 10 working agents and managers and find at least 2 worth querying," is something for which I can be responsible.

A goal that you clearly articulate, tell others about, and assume responsibility for is a goal that has every chance of being met.

So... What are YOUR goals? And what are you going to do about them?

No comments: