Often when asked to come up with a goal people will think of what they’d like to do.
That’s great, what they need to ask themselves is whether it’s realistic at the current stage of their business.
There’s nothing wrong with aspirations at all. However, using goals to try and achieve them in the short-term (by that I mean a year) can be counterproductive.
After all aspirations by their very nature tend to be out of our comfort zone and more difficult to achieve.
So in order to get around the problem of mixing aspirations with goals I like to use a 3 year target so that I can show my aspirations developing over three years.
For example maybe I want to have an office in Australia. However, there are a number of things I need to do before I can achieve that. So it makes sense to put the project "opening an Australian office" into year 2 of my target. Year 1 might contain things like increase profit by £250,000 to £750,000 and recruit a new sales person.
So in the target picture the numbers 80 to 60 would represent year 1 (this year), 50 to 40 year 2 (next year) and 30 to 10 year 3 (the following year).
Then on the target you’d write down your aspirations as a line leading from the centre. Then along that line you’d write what could be achieved in each of the 3 year rings.
The net result is that I can show my aspirations being achieved over three years. And obviously each year I create a new aspirational target.
The good thing about doing it this way is that it’s a visual prompt to your brain that reinforces your aspirations and what you want to achieve over the next three years.
Vital Few Goals
Now I have my aspirational target I can look at those I believe can be achieved, or part achieved, this year. Then I decide what are the 3 or 4 Vital Few Goals I need to meet to move forward on those aspirations
I list those down and then brainstorm projects that can help move me forward on one, or preferably more than one, of the vital few.
I assign project deadlines for each project and also a measurement of how I’ll know that I’ve succeeded.
Then I breakdown the projects into steps I need to take to achieve each one.
As I work on each of the projects I know I’m working towards completing them. In completing them I’m meeting the Vital Few Goals and in doing that moving forward with my aspirations.
Ultimately those aspirations are what makes a company grow and prosper.
And this approach is part of what is incorporated into my time management workshops.