There are two ways to approach your goals: You can be flexible, and let the next steps evolve as you work toward your objective, or you can be rigid, and set specific actions to take. To decide which approach you should use, ask yourself how difficult your goal will be to achieve, how invested you are in achieving it, and what else you have on your plate. In situations where your goal is relatively simple and you’re highly motivated to achieve it, a flexible approach typically works best. In situations where the change required is difficult and you feel less engaged, lay out a firm sequence of steps. And be mindful of your track record. If you struggle with follow-through, or you find that there are simply too many priorities competing for your attention, you’ll need a rigid approach to pursuing your goal.
In martial arts, practitioners are taught to aim through their target. The reason for this is that people tend to slow or halt their momentum as they approach a target. To hit a target with maximum power, you don’t stop your movement until you are past your target. The same principle applies to business.
In order to get the most out of your goals, aim past them. If you want five new customers, aim for ten. If you want $1 million in new revenue, aim for $1.5 million. By pushing through you are not only more likely to achieve your goal, but exceeding the goal leaves you in a better position for the next goal. Even if you don’t achieve the higher goal, you have achieved your actual goal.
The additional effort you put forth to raise the bar boosts your efficiency, enhances your productivity, and increases your momentum. Push through your goal and achieve more.
When developing a strategy, you need to put your capabilities first. If your strategy depends on capabilities that you do not possess, the strategy can not succeed. Don’t decide on a strategic direction and then wonder what you need to get there, outperform competitors by leveraging what you and your company do best. Use your capabilities — the people, knowledge, systems, tools, and processes that create value for customers — as the foundation of competitive advantage.
Identify what differentiates your capabilities from your competitors. Figure out what your company does uniquely well, what your customers value, and what your competitors can’t emulate
Far too many people toil away in jobs that leave them dissatisfied. Business owners grab any project they can and dilute their focus. To avoid, or fix, this situation, you need to find your core competency, your focus. How do you determine what your focus is?
1. Figure out what you like to do. If what you enjoy doing most is useful, it ought to be part of your focus.
2. What you do best. Many people spend years trying to improve areas of weakness. Focus your energy on mastering what you’re good at.
3. What is valuable to your company or customer. Figure out how your particular strengths can be used to better your company, customer, unit, or team. A sense of contribution will keep you engaged. When you are engaged, its easier to stay focused.
When faced with mounting distractions, stressful situations, and conditions outside your control, are you really capable of delivering your best? Most of us are not. To deliver our best, we need to be calm and centered. We need to have focus in order to provide customers with the service they desire.
How can we keep that focus and remain at the top of our game, despite mounting stress levels? One way is by bringing mindfulness into your workday. Mindfulness is about paying attention to the moment. If you take time to notice what you are about to do, you remind yourself to appreciate and focus on the task, rather than rush through it.
For example, when you sit down at your desk in the morning, pause before your turn on your computer or pick up the phone. Take a deep breath and spend a few moments thinking about what you wish to accomplish that day. Think about what is most important for you to do. This can help keep you on task so that even when distractions pile up, you can return to what is most important.
Another ritual is to clear your desk at the end of the day. Before rushing out, take the time to organize everything on your desktop. This helps bring closure to your day. As you organize, make a list of what needs to be done tomorrow. This gives you the opportunity to start your next day with purpose, rather than starting the day already feeling behind.
Day after day we get caught up in the minutia that we have to do. It’s difficult to rise above the din and focus on strategic projects. To clear some mental space and make progress on your larger goals, give yourself one meeting-free day each week. Block it off on your calendar and commit to leaving the whole day open for work. Use the time for tasks that require focus and high-level thinking, such as writing, strategic planning, or analysis.
To get the most out your meeting-free day, choose two to three discrete deliverables you’ll accomplish and record them in your calendar. Commit to moving these items — and only these items — forward. It might feel awkward at first to ignore or delay emails and daily tasks so you can focus on your planned project. But once you get in the groove and realize how great it feels to get so much done, it will get easier.
Focus is one of the key elements in building your success. A major part of that focus is having goals to focus on. Your goals provide you with both something to focus on and a way to measure your progress as you move forward. To get you started, here are five tips for setting and achieving goals to better aid your endeavors.
Be Specific and Set A Deadline: Vague goals are unattainable. While the goal of “bringing in more sales” is an admirable, it is also lacking specificity. Your goals need to be realistic and measurable, which means you need to be specific about your objectives. How many sales are you aiming for? How do you intend to bring in more sales? What specific steps do you need to do to accomplish this? Once you establish specific goals, you need to assign them deadlines in order to ensure you see them through.
Develop A Plan Of Action: Even with specific goals, you still need to have a plan for achieving them. Goals are a lot like trips — you cannot expect to reach your destination if you do not know what route to take. For goals, that means creating an outline or punch list that breaks down your goals into bite-sized, manageable steps easily integrated into your daily work life.
Review Goals: Check your goals periodically. What have you done to achieve them? Talk this over with other people. If your goal is to be accomplished by a team, review it with them. Reviewing goals allows everyone to get on the same page as their follow team members, which helps employees work more efficiently.
Incorporate Goals Into Life: Attaining your goals is a process, one that is reached gradually. They will not fall into your lap already realized. Instead, you must find ways to blend your everyday workload with strategies and tactics designed to achieve your goals in a concerted effort that simultaneously advances progress on your goals and improves your productivity.
Be Prepared For Changes: Life throws you curveballs. You must accept that, because part of reaching your goals means being ready for those curveballs, being able to acclimate and being prepared to adjust your plan of action on the fly. Goals are rarely, if ever, reached without a hitch. Besides, adaptability is crucial in the business world.
No matter what your job is, no matter what industry you work in, you must remember one thing: you are in the people business. It is people who will buy from you. It is people that will talk about you. It is people that work with you. It is all about people.
It is easy to get caught up in your product or service. Unless you focus on people, it won’t matter. The best example of this is Google. Google is a tech company. They almost never have contact with their customers (have you ever tried to contact a person at Google?). However, their biggest successes are tools that make things easier for people. Think of the Google home page. You go there for search. All that is there is a search box and a logo. Simple. Now think of their failures. Google Wave, Google+, Google Glasses. They were all unappealing to people. The technology behind each of them was impressive, but they didn’t connect with people. Wave and Google+ were clearly designed by engineers for techies and did not have interfaces to appeal to the general public. Google Glasses users were actively made fun of. These products did not connect with people.
To be truly successful, you have to build relationships and interact with people. Focus on people and the rest will take care of itself.
Planning out your week can help you navigate life gracefully — but overplanning your day-to-day tasks can make you neurotic and stressed. The best way to reap the benefits of daily and weekly planning is to take a more relaxed approach, and to understand the role spontaneity should play in your plans. Here’s how:
- Be intentional but flexible. Decide in advance where you want to end up, but accept that your route may change along the way.
- Redefine a 100% score. For most people, a great day is when they accomplish 60–70% of their goals. Think about a “perfect” day as one where you made the best choices possible, not one where you finished everything.
- Don’t think of your plans as a test. If your self-worth depends on how accurately you implement your plans, you’re on shaky ground. Life is meant to be lived, not just “done.”
Students are always told that there are no stupid questions. The idea is to encourage people to ask questions and learn more. There are stupid questions, though. You probably hear them every day, and may have asked them on occasion.
I’m talking about asking a question you have just been given the answer to. I don’t mean asking a question to clarify what you just heard. I am referring to asking the same question you just got the answer to because you weren’t listening.
Many of us spend more time thinking about what we are going to say rather than listening to what is being said to us. Focus on what you are being told. If you need a moment to formulate a response, take it after you have heard what is being said. If you need to clarify a point, repeat it and ask follow up questions. If you weren’t paying attention, come clean and apologize for being distracted. Asking for information you just received will keep people from having confidence in you.