opinion

Set Goals, Reap Rewards

Rainey Stricklin

January is typically a month for calendar-induced idealism about the New Year. We tend to spend time reflecting on the previous year and set lofty goals for the coming 12 months. But as the weeks and months roll on, many of us find ourselves wondering what happened to those plans we dreamed up in our heads…

Now that Intenext and the holidays are behind us, I will be spending the next couple of weeks putting those goals down on paper, creating a road map for the year. I am a firm believer in setting goals, writing them out and committing myself to accomplishing them. When you leave goals in your head, they are likely to stay there.

Recently, someone said to me that our industry moves too quickly to take the time to write out plans. I strongly disagree. If you know your target and detail the steps needed to get there from the start, you save a tremendous amount of time not floundering around wondering what to do next. Countless studies show that the most successful people are avid goal setters.

Your goals should be specific, measurable, realistic and worth working for. Know exactly why you are working on these goals and the benefits you will receive by accomplishing them.

Here are a few steps that I like to follow when setting goals:

Be Specific About Your Desired Result
As Stephen Covey says, I like to start with the end in mind. What is my objective for the year? Next January when I am reviewing the accomplishments for 2004, what do I expect to see? Is it a certain amount of new affiliates? An increased retention rate? An overall revenue goal? Be specific about exactly what you want to accomplish. Once you can visualize the result, you can begin planning the actions required to get there and dedicating the resources needed to achieve the goals. Set a deadline for the overall achievement of the goal.

Break The Goal Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces
Outline every step needed to accomplish the goal, what resources and staff are needed to accomplish the goal, and a deadline for completing the task. Don’t leave anything out. If you create a strong task list, you’ll never have to ask “what do I do next.”

Make Your Plan Visible
Once your plan is complete, post it on the walls, give everyone copies, and update your staff regularly on the progress. Don’t just send an occasional email; involve people in it. Check off completed tasks, make notes on it, interact with it. Make sure everyone can see it and track progress. Don’t keep the results to yourself. People react to visual stimuli.

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Measure Your Success And Shortcomings
The first thing you should do every day is go back to your plan and see where you are at. This will keep the goal in the forefront of your mind and make sure you are on target.

You should build into your plan a system for measuring accomplishments. For example, “By March 31st, our sales will increase by five percent in order to meet our overall goal of a 25 percent jump.” When you complete significant phases of your goal, celebrate! It helps keep your motivation and that of the people working with you strong.

Be Willing To Revise
Your plan should be a living and breathing document. As with most things in life, circumstances change, and you may need to revise your goals. Be vigilant in maintaining your plan. If complications arise, account for them in your plan. If three months from now you find your goals are too easily accomplished, add to them. Make sure that your plan is always realistic, challenging and rewarding.

Celebrate!
Plan your celebration now! How will you reward yourself and your staff for achieving your goal? Maybe a party, a vacation, a cash bonus. Whatever it is, let everyone know so they have a clear benefit in mind. A plan is just paper without action and motivation.

Plan it out, stay focused, work hard and by next December you’ll be leagues ahead of the rest. Happy planning!

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