Goals Define Your Future Success

You can’t achieve great things without setting goals.

In order to accomplish great things, you need a roadmap for how to get there. To create a roadmap, you need to set goals first, so you know where you are headed. If you were building a railroad, you would research and determine what your goals were (destinations), and then build the tracks to connect them; you wouldn’t build tracks in all sorts of funky directions as you went along.

Contrary to what you might have heard, as an entrepreneur, when you sit down to set goals, you need to set them high. For people not looking to be in business for themselves, setting goals just out of reach are OK. But you’re an entrepreneur, so you need to think bigger. Generally, your maximum potential is what you set your goals to. Thus, if you set a goal to make a $100,000 salary and you’ve executed on your roadmap to get there, chances are you’ll come close and make $90,000/year. You might even hit your goal, or just above it. You will probably not have a chance at making $500k/year because that requires a different roadmap… a roadmap you haven’t discovered because you set your sights at the $100,000 salary. You need to set your goals high, even if they seem unrealistic to others. When combined with ideas and a purpose, goals that high become dreams.

One of the things that makes you unique as an entrepreneur is that you’re a dreamer. It seems like everyone thinks you dream too much and have ethereal ideals. Employees don’t dream; sure, they dream in their sleep, and perhaps they have an imagination, but real employees tend to look to others to set their dreams and ambitions for them. Entrepreneurs live and breathe dreams. It’s in their DNA. They work to persevere by making them a reality, even when everything is going against them.

If you don’t dream that you are going to build a $50 million dollar enterprise that revolutionizes the way people power their vehicles, then the chances of you ever making it happen are slim.

How To Set Goals

You may already know how to set goals perfectly. If that’s the case, drop into the comments section of this post (contest is at the bottom), and show your expertise by sharing some tips with the rest of our readers. Otherwise, don’t worry, here is how you get started. There are many ways you can set and track your goals, but here is what I recommend:

  1. Create a list of things you want to accomplish. Begin by creating a list, in no particular order and in free form, of all the things you would one day like to accomplish with your business. While you’re at it, do this for your personal life as well, because believe it or not, your personal and business goals have a lot in common and will influence each other over time. Spend at least 1 hour thinking and writing down your goals. Doing this on paper is probably the easiest effort, because you can do it anywhere. Some people find sitting in a spacious park with a notepad to be a really effective way of purging the distractions.
  2. Categorize your goals. Beyond “Business” and “Personal”, you want to categorize your goals that are in common. If you wrote down goals like “Start a business”, “Hire a lawyer”, and “Hire 2 employees”, then you might consider categorizing them as “Company Formation.” Other goals might be “Visit Eastern Europe”, “Live in Paris”, and “Skydive in Cairnes, Australia” and mark those as category “Travel.” This step just helps you build context around your goals. Later, when you want to discover new goals, you can pull out the goal list for a particular category so you can have some focus to further refine it. Spend 15 to 30 minutes categorizing your goals, and don’t let this step frustrate you.
  3. Map your goals to a timeline. For each categorized goal list, you want to start thinking about when you expect to complete the goal. For example, the previously mentioned goal “Hire a lawyer” would most likely be a Short Term goal. A goal of “Bring in revenues of $1 million” might possibly be a long term goal for you. Ideal timelines would be: this week, this month, this year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years. The more frequently you revisit these goal timelines and your goal lists in general, the higher probability that you’ll actually complete them. For some, this step may take hours as they try to visualize when in their lives they think the goal is realistic. Other people might actually do this instinctively.
  4. Break down your mega-goals into smaller goals. If you have made incredibly lofty goals, that’s OK. But you need to break them down into more digestible and time-sensitive goals too. A goal of “Grow my business into a multi-national organization with 450 franchises and a gross revenue of $500 million” is most definitely not accomplishable with only a set of tasks as a roadmap. You need to chop it into sub-goals, such as “Grow revenue to $10 million”, “Develop a franchise business plan”, “Setup 5 franchises”, “Establish opportunity in franchise conferences”, and “Build presence in Mexico.” How you keep track of your goals and sub-goals is up to you, but a manilla folder for each category and sheets for each major goal seems appropriate for most people. Others use elaborate Excel spreadsheets, or other custom software.
  5. Break your goals into tasks. Now that you’ve set your eyes on what you want for your personal and business lives, it’s time to create a roadmap to get there. I find it amazing that a lot of people have trouble with this part of achieving their goals. You need to spend many hours, and possibly days on this step, although thankfully, you can do this one goal at a time. What are the tasks necessary to accomplish your goal? If your goal is “Start a business” some of your tasks might be “Research types of businesses”, “Purchase books about starting a company”, “Talk to other business owners”, “Do some preliminary market research”, or “Hire a formation lawyer.” If you have trouble coming up with the tasks you need to do for the roadmap of your goal, phrase your goal as a question (“How do I start a business?”) and ask your network for help.
  6. Each morning, create a Today List. That’s right, you should be starting every day by sitting down and reviewing what you think you need to do, and then create a list to get those tasks done. There certainly will be interruptions and derailments, but that’s fine, because you can always get back on track. If you’re not starting your day with a clear understanding of what you’re attempting to do, how could you possibly get them done properly? This may be obvious to most, but you would really be shocked at how many people just “wing it.”
  7. Resolve your day with some cleanup and reflection. The last thing you may feel like you want to do at the end of a stressful day is sit down and check things off, but you need to do it! Not only is it absolutely rewarding to see all the work you’ve completed, but it’s a way to identify what you need to finish tomorrow. You can also think back and examine if your tasks were on track for reaching your goals. Did you feel like they helped you get closer? Can you clean up your task lists at all to refine your roadmap?
  8. Revisit all of your timeline goal lists on a regular basis. Over time you are going to change. Your desires will change, and you will refine your ability to track your goals. You should be revisiting your weekly goals every day, your monthly goals every week, and your yearly goals every month. It won’t hurt to post your goals on the wall on occasion to remind yourself what you’re working towards too. For some, this might be too aggressive and overkill. But, for the rest of us, this is exactly what we need to stay on track.

Additional Reading

Contribute and Win

If you have a technique or resource that I’ve overlooked, please leave a comment! I will be choosing a comment at random (on Sunday, November 16th) to receive a copy of Seth Godin’s new book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

27 thoughts on “Goals Define Your Future Success

  1. I use mediation every single day to calm my nerves and create focus around my goals and desired outcomes in life.

    Another method I use on top of meditation is the use of a vision boards. Have you ever heard of them? They are images pasted on a board that represent your hopes, dreams, and goals. Studying these boards every days plants seeds of these goals within your subconscious mind.

    Your subconscious mind is where all of your habits are formed. Combine these visualizations with mediation and self-affirmations, and the seed of your goal in your subconscious mind will begin to grow, sprouting a newly developed habit that is oriented towards your desired outcome, or goal.

    John Assaraf does a better job of explaining this and showing you how to do it in his new book “The Complete Vision Board Kit.” I downloaded the free chapter here at http://www.TheVisionBoardKit.com.

  2. So glad found Kevin’s blog today, it’s really good stuff. I’m going to print out posts from my reader and read them in the bath tonight after a long training day!
    My tip – be authentic, be yourself, you can only ever be a second rate somebody else
    Wisequeen.
    Donna Jackson

  3. Cheryl says:

    This was a great article, very motivating and full of information. I create a to do list everyday, I feel lost without it and find myself just setting around and getting nothing done unless I have set goals for the day and written them out. Thanks for a article well written, keep sending out good information

    Cheryl

  4. Anil Verma says:

    This is one of the great article i have read .I too agree with Ron Towns suggestion for using vision boards .Actually your mind goes to subconscious state just before u go to sleep or u wake up in morning.so put a vision board infront of you bed ..seriously it will help a lot.

  5. NorthWet says:

    Wonderful article and so very true! At least for me, there is something about taking the time to write a goal down which seems to make a huge difference in accomplishing them even if I don’t focus on them daily. I have created goal lists only to have life take over and the lists got buried for months. When I find them it always amazes me how many I’ve accomplished.

    I have since purchased a Palm, in large part to keep me focused and goal oriented. I find tracking my accomplishments and ‘little’ successes towards larger goals helps me stay motivated and on target. Can’t imagine life without my goal lists or my Palm these days! LOL

  6. sonica says:

    I agree with you that people should set high goals for themselves. Actually whatever you have written here has been implemented by me during my college days. I would start studying a month in advance and set weekly, daily and hourly goals. I would attain about 80% of these goals and this would ensure that I had sufficient time to prepare before my tests.
    I use the same method now to achieve results in whatever task I wish to complete on time.
    hope you keep on writing and giving us insights about new topics.

  7. Sam says:

    I agree that goals are one of the most important indicators of success. If I didn’t wake up everyday and have a list of things to do (goals), it would be really hard not to just lay on the couch and watch TV (I work from home).

  8. Jon B says:

    While setting lofty goals may help as a motivator (and some strong research shows that those that do create goals are more successful overall) the means to reach those goals are just as important. If your entrepreneurial idea is to make slap bracelets popular again, you may never reach or come close to that big ol’ goal of yours. So, goals are just one part of the success equation.

  9. khushe says:

    The article is very inspiring. The procedure of setting goals has been very nicely explained. I would like to follow it and see the results for myself.

  10. Ino says:

    This article about goals define your success is true. Kevin did a wonderful job explaining to people what to do first when they decide to achieve something because I do it all the time. I first define what my goals are to the highest level and then start the achievement. Great job Kevine!!!

  11. dingo says:

    This article was very helpful and i agree that by setting goals my success will be big, not as big as goal but bigger that it would be if i haven’t set my goal. Now after reading this article i am going to set my goals even higher heh, thanks for your helpful article

  12. Sapphire says:

    I love that this article could apply to any goal you set, not just entrepreneurship. I recently decided to work hard at getting out of debt, and I’m going to use the steps you provided to aid in this quest.

    I never thought about aiming beyond the mark in business and other endeavors. I always thought you should set little goals and be happy as you got them, but you’re right, if you aim low, you’ll hit low. It’s good to set the standard high, but make little goals to get yourself there!

  13. Sandy says:

    I would have to say You have a lot of valid content and great pointers to keep someone on track, thanks for the great insight.

  14. tlestrogen says:

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s very important to remember to revisit your goals often or you won’t complete them. Anytime I look at my past goals that I haven’t completed–that’s the cause–I didn’t look at them on a daily basis, and I certainly didn’t break them down into daily goals. Great article thank you!

  15. Amy Schiller says:

    The article sounds good, but likely could be a little more fancy with the words in places. I mean it seems like the words are a bit choppy and could use more of a flow to them. Otherwise, this is great.

    I, however, dream of making more money a year, want to, but keep hitting dead ends. Some people say I concentrate too much on making money, but I feel like I’m not doing enough as currently my income doesn’t surpass $20,000 a year. I fee like there’s more to it than thinking I can. Perhaps I am not finding the right opportunities?

  16. TheFan says:

    First time here.. This blog is preety cool..
    About this post..
    Its all about Goals..If you dont have it ,you are not going to succed..
    This article is very inspiring,and following this steps may lead to reach all the goals..

  17. koushik says:

    I agree with what he has said it is really a nice idea to use a vision board. I strongly believe that what he has told for any type of goal.

  18. I agree in absolute with you. For 10 years I was a teacher in a public school, winning about 800 dollars a month, and stupidifying with all the most of the people around me for a very little compensation.
    Then, one day I began to ask my self if I can´t do it beter: Have my own schoolar centre and enjoying what I was doing – teaching.
    I planned it for a couple of months, established the connections, and than took the risk.
    Today I work harder but I win 5 or 6 times more. And I use many of the features you tell in your article, because I want to growth my business, and that you only can if you planall of your steps in advance.
    But your article help me to know I am right and is very useful in some aspects.

  19. Ed says:

    This article explains the subject better than any I have ever seen. Follow the steps, work at keeping a positive attitude and not let set backs get to you.

  20. Heather says:

    Your story is very insightful, and I think it is so true. That you need to set goals not only in your life but also about what you want to do with it. This blog help me in a lot of ways, thanks for your insight.

  21. Fazliana Ahmad Zawawi says:

    Yes. goal is very important. I joined this one paid to post site and I have to write articles in order to earn. Every month I set a goal, how much I want to earn from this site. And throughout the whole one month, I work hard to create interesting articles to reach my goal. So far, all 3 goals for 3 continuous months are all reached.

    That’s the important of setting goal and you have wrote how to set a goal in an interesting way. Kudos!

  22. Samson Johnson says:

    I struggle sometimes at work in finishing projects. I can see the end result but cannot always see the best (or any at times) way to get there. You make a very good point about 7. Resolve your day with some cleanup and reflection. Whenever my work seems stressful, one of the best things I can do is organize everything I have to do which helps to get a better grasp on how to solve the problem.

  23. Veronica says:

    I find it interesting that you say a business owner/entrepreneur has to set goals high..sometimes high goals may seem a little intimidating so setting mid range goals may be more of a motivator to some people. I like the mentioned step process because it breaks down how a person can succeed in their choices just by using a thought process. I am a person who wants to work for myself so reading this article gives me more insight to what I should do to achieve my long term goal of running my own business.

  24. Alin says:

    Good work Kevin! Laying it out like this helped me understand the path to achieving my personal goals, and yes it does not apply only to entrepreneurism, but to any field in which you set goals.
    Very inspiring! *claps*
    It’s surely gonna send me to a good start!

    Thank You!

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