We all start the year with business goals. Like a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, you promise yourself you’ll start that new marketing campaign, organize your time, and treat your law practice like a real business.
But it doesn’t take long to fall off the wagon and dive into the chocolate cake.
The tyranny of the day-to-day grind steals your motivation. You never seem to be able to dig out from the heaps of voicemails and emails. What you thought was a goal was actually a dream.
The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.
You probably thought you set a goal, but I'll bet you didn't. You didn’t set a real goal because you didn’t set a deadline, and identify the process for getting from point A to point B.
When the rubber meets the road, you can’t just set your sights on the destination. You need a measurable way of knowing whether or not you’re making progress.
It's not just "I want to go to Fiji" then pop! You're there. You need to look at the calendar, compare resorts, research flights, figure out how to get from the airport... Going to Fiji was a dream. Until you decided to set a deadline, and the process for making it happen. And you know how close you are. You've either booked the plane tickets, or not.
What do you need to do to reach your goal? What are steps one, two, three, four towards achieving it, and when will you achieve it by?
An amazing thing happens when you choose the right goals for the right reasons and follow the right steps.
Stuff gets done.
Eating elephant isn’t so hard when all you have to do today is buy a fork.
Forget the marathon. Focus on sprints.
New Year’s resolutions fail because they have no deadlines. They’re based on things people want to accomplish over the course of an entire year.
That’s too long.
When we coach attorneys, identifying long-range goals is just the beginning. We help them break those goals down into bite-sized chunks and prioritize them.
You need to break down the year’s goals into months and weeks. Otherwise, there’s no sense of urgency to get things done.
And you can get a lot more done in a shorter period of time when you break down goals into chunks (which we call "sprints" - we have a set of tools to make sure things actually get done).
One of our members had a simple ritual – get up an hour earlier each day so he could work on his business. So the alarm buzzes an hour earlier, before the kids are awake. He pulls out his Sprint Worksheet and knows exactly what to do to make progress. Yesterday, he bought the elephant-eating fork. Today, he's buying the knife. Step, by step, by step.
And he’s had outstanding results because he created the clarity, the space and the time he needed to achieve his goals.
Are you on track to meet your goals?
If you only identified the end goal, you probably don't know where you stand.
But if you’ve broken down one major goal into a bunch of smaller steps, sub-goals, you’ll have a progress meter that shows how far you’ve come.
The meter will tell you if you’re ahead of schedule and on track to beat your target date.
It'll also tell you if you’re behind - so you can pick up the pace and devote more time to achieving your goal.
And here's the interesting part. We all get it conceptually. Yeah, yeah, break big things into little things. But a funny thing happens when we make the chunks really small. Like daily or weekly.
Every day we're winning.
We're accomplishing something towards our big goal. We know we're progressing. And we're proud of ourselves. So we do it again. So more gets done.
All those little wins - goals realized, one step at a time - add up. Quickly. With a sense of achievement and progress.
If you're not on track now, if you've ever set a goal and bailed on it, don't think of it as a personal failing. It isn't. It's a process failure. You just didn't put in place the right framework.
So now: make a goal a real goal. Give it a deadline. Put in place the steps. Break them down. Execute. And win.
Featured image from Gratisography.