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Why Goal Setting Is So Important

It is a proven fact that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. What is interesting is that women and men process this reality differently. The original study that most people cite was conducted by Harvard Business in 1979. The basic finding was that the 3 percent of Master of Business Administration graduates who wrote their goals down achieved earnings ten times greater than the other 97 percent combined, after ten years. Now, if that doesn’t motivate you to write down your goals, I don’t know what else will.

Yearly cycles. I plan my vision through one-, three- five-, and seven-year cycles. Sometimes my goals in one year are not achieved, so I carry them on to my three-year goal chart. For example, one of my goals was to write a book. Starting with just an idea, I considered the goal in the context of the other activities I want to pursue. I evaluated the potential monetary investment and the potential revenue. I considered that I knew little about the process and would have to learn as I went. Therefore, I placed it as a goal to be completed within the seven years. This contrasts with more immediate goals like hiring a new associate, and nearer-term goals like expanding to a new location.

The point is that you create goals that impress you. Nothing requires you to create goals that are reasonable, necessarily. Dream big. The clarity comes with the next step: Planning the Steps.

Planning the Steps. Planning the steps is exactly what you think it is. For each of your goals, you are tasked with creating steps that will get you towards those goals. What you may not recognize until you begin is that this step-creating requirement begins to clarify your goals and make them more realistic.

For example, let’s say you set a goal for sales figures over one million dollars by your third year. Break that into steps and realize that, at sixty dollars per client, that would mean forty-six clients per day and about five clients per hour. The staff required to achieve that alone would bite into your profits. Could you maintain quality at the level of client turnover? Where would these people wait, sit, and be serviced? This goal must get clearer and more realistic as you account for all of those factors.

You may realize now that a more realistic goal is six figures, or one hundred thousand dollars, as a year-two goal. This translates to 138 clients per month, which is seven clients per day. Plan for a return on investment that is acceptable to you, achievable, and realistic from where you are standing.

Vision boards are effective tools for outlining your vision. Remember that the goal is to inspire your subconscious mind. Connect the words with pictures. See the goals as if they have already happened.

First, work through your goal list with the words and outcomes constructed in full sentences. Work through time frames and planning steps to clarify the goals. Allow them to become more realistic even as you maintain their grand nature. Second, collect pictures from magazines that inspire you and connect with the concepts in your goal list. You can supplement magazine pictures with internet downloads too. Print them off in colour if possible, to create the most visceral reaction and emotions when you see them on the board. The third step is best performed with a large canvas or poster board. You may want to use a trifold board—think elementary school science fair project. Consider where you will post the vision board to help you determine the style that fits best. Mine is an 11x14 poster board found at a local art supply store. The fourth step is to create a collage of pictures and motivational quotes on your board. Create the style that fits your personality. Balance readability with impact. Be free with textures and colours, and even include three-dimensional objects if you have the inspiration. If you want it, put it on the board. Don’t limit yourself.

You want to have the board visible to you daily. Writing goals down is important but reviewing and reflecting on those goals is the real power. I keep my vision board right near my desk. This has me looking at it each day when I work. It is a visual reminder but also a prompt for me to reflect on my why. I gain direction and inspiration to continue moving forward because my goals are tangible and visible in the form of the vision board.

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