Goals Setting

Let it grow, Let it grow, you can’t reap what you don’t sow
- Dr. Seuss -

Here I am, sitting in my chocolate store, it’s the end of the day, the store is already closed, I had a good day (way to go Liz), the holidays are always a good time to own a chocolate store, it is the summer that is tricky. I was about to close the store, but for some reason I was drawn to the recipe drawer, I really never open it up, maybe once in a blue moon when Mrs. Kiss (I swear that’s her name), asks for my mother’s famous chocolate cake recipe.

But today, I felt like I have to open it up, and as I opened the drawer, I found at the top this famous list, you know, the one that we all create, some call it “Business Goals”, some call it “to-do list”, I just called it “My 2010 Goals”, funny I never really looked at it during that year…how far I have grown.

There are many items on the list, as I read through it, I can see that in 2010 I achieved some, progressed on some and did not even start on a few. Some of them, which were important at the start of 2010 seem meaningless now…yea, right I will take ballroom dancing classes.

First on the list was to start a blog for business owners. I know I am a bit late, and in 2010 it was very cool to start a blog, and yes, there are about a gazillion blogs, some are great, some do speak to business owners, and maybe…there is no need for another one.

But now I know that I have so much to give, I have learned many lessons from my advisors, mistakes I made in my own business, life lessons and most dreading of all I learned lessons about the language of a business – I learned accounting.

So looking at the list, I decided my first (EVER) blog post will be about goals setting.

We all know it’s important to set our goals, and even more important to write these goals down. “Yes, Liz, then you can just put it in the drawer in a neat order”, but seriously we all have many goals, we all have plans but somehow they don’t fully materialize.

Let me tell you about the goals setting practice Charlie taught me. I have to warn you, it really works (at least for me), but it does require some thinking and some work, so here we go.

You start by writing down how you would like your life to look like 5 years from now. I know, I know, you can barely see how your life would look like tomorrow. How can you possibly see 5 years ahead? But here’s how I tackle it.

First, I start with the business aspect of my life. I write as many details as possible about how I wish my work day to look like 5 years from now. I found asking myself many questions (try not to ask yourself loudly in public J) helps with this fun activity. You can start with questions such as:

  • When starting my work day, do I go to an office building, a store, the beach, open space, pool?
  • How my perfect work place looks like?
  • Are there many people there?
  • Is it quiet or noisy?
  • Do I speak with people?
  • Do I participate in lots of meetings or am I working alone?
  • Do I work in front of a computer, in front of a machine or in front of people?

I found that as I ask myself more questions, I get to have a better description of my perfect work day.

Then you write down how does your weekend or non-work day look like, I write as many details as possible, hey it’s our time to dream so let’s dream vividly. Let me share a little secret with you, I even write how the day smells like, I guess that’s why my business goal is to bring sweetness and inspiration to people’s lives. After you describe your 2 perfect days in 5 years time, you are ready for the important part of this exercise. At the end of the 2 days description, I write “1/1/2018 –I am most proud of:” and then I write the top 5 things that I am most proud of. I know it’s a bit confusing but the fun part is to write the 5 things that you are most proud of for the next 5 years as if it has already happened…that reminds me of the movie “Back to the Future”, loved that car!

Here is one item I wrote a few days ago when doing this exercise: “I am most proud of being a business owner, operating a chain of 4 chocolate stores which bring sweetness and joy to tens of thousands of people every year”. I told you it’s fun.

I found this exercise most helpful to do before writing my yearly goals, first it puts me in the right mind set, it’s really motivating, and secondly and maybe even more important, it ensures my yearly goals will be aligned with where I want to be 5 years from now. These goals will get me closer to my future reality.

Are you getting excited? Cool, now we are ready to write our goals.

So here is what I do, I usually write between 5 to 10 yearly goals, it helps to have several categories such as business goals, personal goals, self improvement goals, experiences, health goals (especially important when you are surrounded with sweets).

Charlie told me that the goals have to be “S.M.A.R.T” goals, which means that each goal needs to be:

Specific: “I want to be rich” is not very specific, “By 12/31 I will have an investment account with $1,000,000, a savings account with $500,000 and my mortgage will be paid off” is much better.

Measurable: you need to be able to make sure that you really achieved the goal, so quantifying it is very helpful.

Achievable: “Fly to Mars” might be achievable one day (Elon Musk is working on it), but probably not anytime soon J.

Result oriented: Make sense, right?

Time frame: It helps to have a date by which you want to accomplish your goal.

I like this “SMART” concept. Now take your favorite spreadsheet app, your yellow notebook or tablet and for each one of your goals add the following:

  1. The Why. Why do I want to achieve this goal? Why is it so important to me? How will I feel if I achieve the goal? How will I feel if I will not achieve it?
  2. My Reward. What should I get for achieving this goal? Hot chocolate and a box of my favorite chocolate chip cookies can be a great reward.
  3. My Consequence. Oh no! Yes, I said it. I often found that I am more driven by avoiding a consequence than by receiving a reward. I always come up with “fun” consequences like not being able to use the DVR when watching my favorite show. That’s driving me crazy…
  4. Who will hold me accountable for achieving the goal? The name of the person who will make sure I achieve my goal (and yes, you need to tell them about it and get their commitment in helping you achieve your goal).

Although it takes more time than day dreaming, writing down the Why, the Reward, the Consequence and the Accountability is very crucial. I really like the “Why” part and over the past few years, I found that if the “Why” does not give me goose bumps out of excitement, this goal should be sent to the trash can. Sometimes reading the “why” is the reason for not giving up on yourself and your goal!

These goals need to be meaningful to you, when achieving your goals you must feel it was your best year ever and ever and ever, you should be proud of your goals.

I remember the first time I spoke with Charlie about goals setting, finishing this exercise and having my colorful page with 8 amazing goals and a description of how I would like my life to look like 5 years from now, felt great and I sheepishly told Charlie that he should be proud of me.

I remember his smiling eyes as he said one of his favorite phrases:

“A goal without a plan is just a dream”

Hmmm, makes sense right? I know that the work is not done just by writing these goals….back to the fancy yellow book. I will write more about planning in future blogs. For now, I will leave you with one thought that really helped me. After finishing the goals, I write to myself one action I commit to take in the next week to get closer to the goal. Do it, you will be surprise how small steps lead to major accomplishments.

I really like this blogging thing, but I need to go back and update my business books (a lot more about it in the future).

Let me finish with another thought :-) …. I remember my mother telling me just when I started my chocolate store “Go ahead Liz, change your life, achieve your goals, design your future and make people happy”.

May this wish come true for you and your business!

I would love to get your comments, how do you set your goals?

Happy Holidays, Liz

Note: By the way, I almost forgot, you can find the goals setting template I’m using for setting my goals under LIZ’S TOOLBOX. I’ve included three of my goals in the template (don’t tell anyone). Enjoy your goals setting!

About the Author: Liz

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