Are you still reaching for the same goals you were three years ago? Do you feel like a hamster in a wheel?
Everything you do needs a strategy – some of these strategies are comparatively easy, like going to work clean, neat and tidy. The key is to have a routine, and introduce the necessary tactics into that routine to make the objective achievable (like setting your alarm clock to get up on time, having the necessary implements like a toothbrush and so on).
Then, you track yourself through your routine to make sure the milestones are accomplished. For example, if you are due to leave by 7.30am and are not showered at 7.15am, you know you’re risking not meeting your objective. It doesn’t need to be 7.30am before you identify there’s a problem.
Setting real objectives
The first step in developing your strategy for anything is to set objectives that are more defined than dreams. Thinking of your objectives in the terms that “I wish I was getting more publicity” or “I really am aiming for more people to buy things from my store” is not good enough. They’re a starting point from which you can develop real objectives. If you leave objectives in that type of framework, I’d say you’re not really ready to achieve them. That’s why so many New Years Resolutions bite the dust. And it applies to business too.
Let’s take “I really am aiming for more people to buy things from my store” as an example.
While we leave that sentence as it is, there is no threat. We can’t fail. We haven’t put in place any SMART qualifications on what we’re wishing for, so it’s all a dream. The SMART acronym stands for qualifications that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and with a Timeframe. Let’s look at the sentence again and apply the SMART principles.
“I really am aiming for more people to buy things from my store.”
It’s not Specific enough. Exactly how many more people? What things do you want to sell more of?
It’s not Measurable. How many more things do you want to sell exactly?
It’s Achievable? With the sentence the way it is, all you’d need is two more people to buy one more thing from the store and you’ve achieved it… but is that really what you’re looking for? It’s also really silly to say you want to sell 10,000 items if you’re only selling 2 at the moment. Be specific – have real numbers that you believe you can achieve.
Is it Realistic? This is different to Achievable. Sure, you might be able to reach a goal of selling 1000 more items in your store if you go to 4 conferences this year, and work every single day of the week for a 14-hour day. It’s achievable. But is that realistic? Do you really want to do that? Will your family think that’s okay? Be realistic.
Make a Timeframe. Part of knowing what you want is knowing when you want it by. Timing allows you to both monitor how well you’re going to get to your goal, as well as define when you’re going to achieve it. When you set deadlines, you need to treat them seriously otherwise you might as well never have set them at all.
In most cases, it’s not easy to go through this process. After doing all this, you could also end up with multiple objectives instead of the one flimsy one you began with. That’s fine, because you’re recognising that there are numerous things you are really wanting, not just one.
You could end up with a sentence that says, “I want to sell 200 floral aprons from my store by 30 June, 2010” as well as one that says “I want to have 30 new customers buying aprons from my store by 30 June, 2010.” Both of these would have different ways of achieving the objective, but they complement each other.
And the probability of you achieving these objectives is infinitely more likely than the flimsy pipe dream you began with. It will reduce your stress (because you have something definite to aim for), and get you ready for the even bigger objectives you’re on your way to next.