I’m a goal setter, and as an employer I’m a butterfly that enjoys floating from goal to goal. I have a folder where I write down all my goals; there’s a special list in the team section for the ones that need a sense check, because, from time to time, I notice that some of those goals are far-fetched or no longer that important to me.
Those goals come under the heading, “What the ‘bleep’ were you thinking?”
I’m fascinated by what motivates other people to set themselves specific goals. I’ve recently chatted with Dr Colleen Meyer on my Goals Do Come True podcast.
Colleen is a marketing and business consultant at Meyer and Mintz; she has a lot of great insight to share when it comes to personal and professional goal setting.
The first thing I wanted to know was what fuelled her ambition.
Colleen: “I got married early, had kids and got divorced. I wanted to make sure I could give my kids a quality life as a single parent. I needed to know what that would look like, so I set short-term and long-term goals. When you set a goal, you’re being proactive instead of reactive which gives you a far greater sense of control.
My research has shown that many women have a higher fear of failure and lower self-efficacy than their male counterparts when it comes to engaging in business and stepping out there. Men are more likely to get business loans than women, who will prefer to use a credit card or savings or borrow money from family, because they’re already asking themselves what will happen if they fail.
I’m encouraging men and women to believe in themselves.”
The power of simple acronyms
Feeling like we’re not good enough is also known as imposter syndrome. It’s a real challenge to overcome that negative voice in your head that tells you that you can’t accomplish your goal.
In my new book, Think Simple Win Big: How to Build the Business of Your Dreams With a Few Simple Goals (a modified version of my first book, Goals DO Come True, now aimed specifically at service-based entrepreneurs), I talk about setting SMART goals. A SMART goal enables you to track your progress and gives you evidence proving that you are capable (which in turn helps to reduce imposter syndrome).
SMART goals are:
I find acronyms useful in goal setting as they help you to remember how best to make progress. I wondered if Colleen used something similar in her work with entrepreneurs.
Colleen: “When I work with a new client, we always start off with an evaluation to identify the problems that are stopping that business from growing. We use the letters KMO1 which stand for knowledge, motivation and organisation.
We look at the training and onboarding that the company’s employees were given and we assess how motivated the employees are. Some people are naturally motivated, and then there are others whose motivation has been killed or ground down by the workplace. Finally we look at the organisational policies and procedures, the work culture and management.
Usually we find that the problems fall within those three categories and we can create a solution.”
Colleen is a very creative thinker when it comes to finding solutions. She also likes to use that creativity to pre-empt issues that might arise.
Colleen: “Before we implement any solutions, I ask people to picture their goal and think about what might cause them to fail. We find solutions to those potential problems and include those in the goal. We put all the goals on a colour-coded calendar so we can identify what was accomplished and what was pushed back and why.”
Often when we achieve goals, there’s no immediate reward; but when we take the time to celebrate our success with a new set of golf clubs (ok, that’s quite a big reward!), organising a meal out for the team, or ordering in cake or ice cream, it goes a long way to helping our teams feel appreciated.
When we set business goals, it is really important that all team members feel involved, otherwise there’s a chance they’ll scupper them (although not with malicious intent). You’ve got to get people singing from the same hymn sheet.
Colleen believes company success relies heavily on this engagement.
Colleen: “When you acknowledge and celebrate the small wins, people will work harder for you. I tell all my clients to keep their people engaged because they will own what they create. If they know they’re creating these goals alongside you, they’ll support them; they see themselves as part of the solution.”
Big, hairy, audacious goals
As entrepreneurs, it’s especially easy to become hung up on taking things forward all the time, especially when you’ve got a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG2) that you want to progress. A wise person once told me that we should put family time in the diary and plan it. I’m guilty of planning the time but not how to use it!
I wanted to hear about Colleen’s big, hairy, audacious goal.
Colleen: “I write down my personal and business goals. At the beginning of each week, I see what needs to be done to make progress, otherwise you get stuck in the minutiae of everyday stuff and you can’t figure out what’s happening. You have to make time for you, as well as your business. It’s important to step back and evaluate.
I am writing a book, Fearless in Pink [podcast of the same name], and I would like to do a TED Talk and become a speaker with the National Association of Business Owners. I want to be able to work from my computer and travel with my family. I don’t ever want to go back to the nine-to-five grind.”
The golden nugget
I like to ask goal setters if they have a golden nugget, a piece of wisdom, that they want to share and, not surprisingly, Colleen’s is all about people.
Colleen: “Sometimes people put money above what’s important. You can work for nasty people or you can work for nice people. It’s not like it used to be where you got a gold watch when you retired after 40 years. Life is too short to have unnecessary stress that you take home to your family. If that’s you, it’s time to make that change, and I always advise business owners that you can get things done without yelling or being nasty.
Be in a happy place where you’re happy and you can grow. If you’re a business owner, you need to create that environment for your team.”
I’m a firm believer in what Colleen shared. People might say that love is too big a word for the workplace, but we’re all working with human beings and there’s enough negativity in the world without creating more. People deserve to feel appreciated.
If you’re working towards a goal, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org; and if you’d love to have first dibs on my new book for service-based entrepreneurs, Think Simple Win Big: How to Build the Business of Your Dreams With a Few Simple Goals, join the waitlist.
1 Clark, R. E. & Estes, F. (2008), Turning Research Into Results: A Guide to Selecting the Right Performance Solutions, Revised edition, Information Age Publishing.
2 BHAG is a concept shared by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their 2005 book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, published by Random House Business.