It’s over half way through 2017. If you actually set them, do you even remember your annual goals? Most people don’t. If you do remember them, have they been helpful? And most importantly, are you on track to reaching them?
Goals are some of the most debated and misunderstood concepts for people in general but especially for entrepreneurs. For business activist entrepreneurs, we have big missions for our business. What about setting annual goals and doing performance evaluations? Are those best left to the big corporations? What might it look like to have an entrepreneurial performance review for you and how you’re tracking toward the revenue and the impact you need to make?
Now, I get pretty serious about setting and accomplishing goals. Brandon and I set both business and personal goals each year during a year-end retreat. Then around the beginning of July we have a mini-retreat to evaluate how things are going and make adjustments. If you’re reading this post when it first comes out, we’re in the midst of the mid-year retreat right now. Those aren’t the only times we’re looking at our goals though. We revisit them whenever we feel like it would be helpful – which is usually about every other month. Plus, I have a daily aspect to my goals as well… More on that soon.
The Anti-Goal Perspective – Sect 1
I decided to give the other side a try and researched the anti-goal perspective. I discovered a couple things but I especially wanted to talk about some ideas that involve some math – I tend to geek out a little when I can add some calculations to a more theoretical concept. Next week I’m excited to talk about a different anti-goal sect that has major things to say to us business activists.
Today, I want to dig into this one sect of anti-goal people who claim that the really successful people don’t set goals. Instead they are always trying to improve in small increments. They believe “Defining goals defines your limitations.” whereas continuous improvement defies limitations. As an individual, they advocate for looking at what you do each day and making small improvements over time. Their focus is on 1% improvements daily.
I Did the Math
This is where I brought in some math in order to dig deeper into the small increment improvement and how it might work practically. I’m a practical person so, while small increments over time sound nice, I wanted to get clear on how they work out by doing some math. Let’s say you pick something your currently doing for 5 minutes every day and you start to improve by 1% every day.
Here’s a breakdown of some milestones:
Day 1: 5 minutes
Day 7: 5 minutes, 18 seconds
Day 14: 5 minutes, 41 seconds
Day 71: 10 minutes
Day 365: 3 hours, 7 minutes
If this was exercise or meditation, I don’t think you’d want to work up to over 3 hours a day exercising or meditating. So maybe this works until Day 139 or so when you get to 20 minutes per day. Then what happens to your 1% improvement? Do you switch to something else? Do you improve the quality by 1% and continue the same quantity?
Now, what if this was an activity like writing? It might be more feasible to work up to 3 hours per day but you probably wouldn’t get very far starting with 5 minutes per day. Would it be better to start with 15 minutes per day? If you started with 15 minutes per day and increased by 1% each day, at Day 365, you’d be writing over 9 hours daily. Yikes!
Obviously I have more questions than answers after doing the math.
A Nice Compromise
After the exploration, I realized something very critical – the process I’ve developed is actually very helpful and I should share it with more people.
My process combines both having goals and staying focused on making daily micro-improvements.
The basic idea of my goals is that I set annual goals and break them down into milestones I can hit throughout the year. Then I break those milestones down into regular (daily, weekly, or monthly) actions to take. Here’s a general idea of how this could work out practically:
Goal: Bring in $100,000 in gross revenue In 2017.
Milestone: 1. Make $50,000 total. 2. First month at $8,334. 3. First day at $274.
Actions: 1. Set & accomplish a #1 priority related to increasing traffic, conversion, or economics in the morning with evaluation & slight improvements for the following day. 2. Publish 1 article each week that increases in quality over the previous week’s. 3. Make 5 pitches each day and increase their effectiveness over time.
That’s a little rudimentary but you get the idea.
(1) I know where I’m going. I know what I need to get there in terms of key markers along the way. Then, I get consistent with the individual steps to get there. I may or may not hit my goal. That’s not necessarily the most important part. The most important part is that I’m clear and focused on what I need to do.
(2) The best part is that everything is able to be changed. If something in my life changes dramatically, I don’t feel tied to my goal. I can adjust it, the milestones, and the actions anytime I need.
(3) This is actually where having a coach comes in tremendously helpful. The power in coaching starts with setting goals and creating the plan to accomplish those goals. That’s just the start though.
The big differentiator between coaching and other opportunities for growth as an entrepreneur is the incredible ability of coaching to facilitate constructive evaluation and adjustments to your goals and your plan as you are implementing them.
So often, people give up on their goals because their initial plan to accomplish that goal didn’t work. Other times people give up on a plan because they change their goal. What a good coach will help you do is evaluate what’s working and not working and adjust accordingly. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. You don’t have to scrap a hypothesis because one experiment didn’t work out.
A good coach will be the sounding board that helps you amplify what’s working and trash what’s not. A good coach will help you know the difference and be confident in moving forward.
Invitation Goals webinar
I mentioned earlier that I believe the process I’ve developed is actually very helpful and I should share it with more people. This post just scratches the surface of what I do to set and achieve goals as an entrepreneur. If you want to go deeper and learn the full process, I invite you to join an upcoming webinar: Overflow Your Performance Review (for Entrepreneurs).