Creating and succeeding with goals is a struggle, especially on a company level. It’s easy to get excited about what we want to achieve and then interest starts to fade. We return to the day-to-day, and drop the ball taking the steps to achieve success. The ol’ New Year’s resolution is the perfect example. At an astounding 92 percent failure rate, many create those resolutions without the slightest confidence they will actually succeed. While the definition of failure varies from person to person, it absolutely does not exist where there is progress. It is easy for us to feel discouraged when we go after a goal and the journey doesn’t look as we envisioned it. As long as we keep putting one foot in front of the other, it’s not failure.
When setting goals, start by evaluating and stating the why behind the goal. The why is what keeps us motivated through the hills, the valleys and the struggles. The why is what fuels our drive and perseverance. This also applies when we are communicating the firm’s goals to partners and associates. Discovering and communicating the why helps create buy-in and a common ground for the team.
Planning is Next
Failure to prepare often leads to failure in believing we can actually succeed. The goal becomes overwhelming and the voices in our head are quickly getting the best of us, so we stop making progress. It is important to focus on the information we have available and take small actionable steps. Break the goal down into actions. We can get hung up on not having it all figured out before we ever get started, but we are capable of adjusting as we go along! In a research study described in the book “Your Best Year Ever,” author Michael Hy-att explains that the leading factor in the participants achieving their goal was the level in which they believed they could actually achieve the goal. When you have a big, audacious goal and you don’t take time to plan and think through the steps, it just remains that, a big, audacious goal rather than a well thought out plan. When we find success in those small steps, it creates momentum. Those small steps are equally important as the overall big goal.
Don’t Put It Off
Procrastination is something most of us struggle with in some form. A great mantra is “progress not perfection.” Procrastination is the brain’s tricky tactic of trying to protect us from failure; if we never start we can’t fail. Imagine you show up to a baseball game, settle into your seat, and inning after inning, the batter walks up to the plate and then strikes out without ever once swinging the bat. How fun would that be? Would the team ever have a chance of winning? Of course not! If we only swung at the most perfect pitches in life, we’ll never swing. We would have paralysis by analysis waiting for the next best pitch while ultimately making no progress. We all know in life, there is no perfect pitch; some are better than others, and each batter has their pitch preference based on past success, but they still don’t all result in a home run. They swing with the hopes of a homer, but they still high five to celebrate a base hit, because those base hits can add up to win too. They can’t all be grand slams, and they don’t have to be. But we do have to swing to have a chance at winning the game.
Once the why is set, and we start moving toward the plan of action, not allowing discouragement to get us off course is essential. We all make missteps, no matter how successful the person. Ask any highly successful person, did it look like what they imagined when they initially set the goal? We will hear a resounding and echoing no. The important thing is that we start, end of story. If we never start, well we never succeed. Sounds obvious but it’s where many of us stumble. Yes, planning is important, thinking the goal through and whether it is really something to invest resources in is important. However, it’s easy to allow thoughts, fears, and excuses to prevent the first step from ever happening. A well thought out plan won’t provide a crystal ball into the future, but it will provide an ability to forecast and reflect. By taking some small steps, reflecting on them, celebrating the progress and continuing to move, it will create momentum which is paramount. Don’t throw in the towel because of a few stumbles. A stumble is not failure. Lesley Poladsky