Goals: The Difference Between Success And Failure

What do you think is the single most significant factor in determining the ultimate success or failure of your business? I’ll give you a hint… it’s not how hard you work, how well you train your employees, or even how strong your cash flow is. 

Those are all critical factors, don’t get me wrong—but even more important is your approach (or lack thereof) to goal setting. Psychologists believe, and studies have documented, that individuals with clear, written goals are significantly more likely to succeed than those without clearly defined goals. 

For instance, a study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, found that individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals than those without written goals. In addition, the study also showed that individuals who made a public "commitment" to their goals and were held accountable to those goals were substantially more likely to accomplish them.

As you can see, goals are critical to ensure success in any discipline—but it’s not enough to simply create a mental list. Below are steps to help you set and achieve your goals:

1) Brainstorm and identify goals you’d like to accomplish, for yourself and for your business. 

2) Put the goals in writing. Make sure that they are specific, and that they are quantifiable! (For instance, "work less than 50 hours per week" is a better goal than "spend more time with family.") Include a timeframe for achieving each goal, as well.

3) Seek accountability. Whether it’s an employee, a friend, or a family member—find someone to confide in. Have them check in with you periodically and ask you how you are doing with regards to accomplishing your goals. 

4) Create a plan for success. As Larry Elder put it, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." How are you going to achieve your goal? What do you need to learn? Who do you need to help you do it? 

5) Measure progress. It’s important that you take time to periodically monitor your progress. If you’ve set a 12 month goal, for example, evaluate your progress every three months. This gives you an opportunity to adjust your plan and stay on track. 

Goal setting is valuable exercise for anyone—but doubly so for business owners. It is easy, as a business owner, to become so focused on the day-to-day details of managing your organization that you completely lose sight of the big picture. The process of setting and pursuing goals forces you to adopt a big-picture mindset.  

Do you have goals for yourself and for your business? If not, now is the time to set them. Commit them to writing and seek accountability—and you’ll be well on your way to success. 

[Image: Flickr user lululemon athletic]

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