At our business, The Interview Doctor, Dan Toussant and I planned in the fourth quarter for the next calendar year. Then we work like crazy to achieve all the big hairy goals we set for the year.
We can look at our results in two ways. On one hand, we missed the big hairy goal of doubling our revenue. On the other hand, we grew our business by more than 40%. Not bad. We will take that!
In my private life, we moved out of our big house and into the boat. It was a huge challenge. Our goal was to accomplish all that by July 1. We actually achieved the goal by September 1, 25% behind our original goal. But we achieved the goal. Not bad. We will take that!
Goals are just wishes without plans. Tactics. Action.
There is a direct analogy to boating. Of course there is, right? Let me illustrate.
Imagine you are sitting behind the helm. The sun is peeping over the horizon. You just pulled up the anchor. You are ready to leave. Water in front of you as far as you can see. Your goal is to get from your anchorage to another point 50 miles away. You can see no signs. How do you achieve your goal?
You must have a plan.
You assess your resources. You have a compass and a GPS, global positioning system sort of like the kind in your car, and a map, called a chart in boating. These are the tools you can use to find your next spot 50 miles away.
Use your chart to find your target spot for the evening. Put a point on the GPS. Now you start the engines and head out.
You have more guidelines to follow than you think. The waterway has signs. They don’t look like road signs on a street but they are very useful. On the right side periodically spaced along the water are red triangles. On the left side are green squares. You keep the boat between the green and red signs.
You do not drive in a straight line. The water twists and turns as it follows the bank. You watch the signs. Here is a red. Pass it on your right side. Where is the green? I see it! Aim for the green and pass it on your left side.
Keep one eye on the reds and greens and the other eye on the depth gauge to make sure the water is deep enough for your boat, periodically looking at the chart to be sure everything is coordinated.
It is very similar to watching your gas gauge, speed limit and road signs. You just have to know where to look.
As you tick off red and green signs in the water, the distance passes bringing you closer to your goal. You can’t always see the ultimate goal in the distance. You must trust your tools and take each milestone one at a time while making progress a little at a time.
As we tick off tasks on our TO DO lists we come closer to our goals. Not action for the sake of action. But action that is designed using all available resources to move us forward in a purposeful fashion towards our goals.
You will meet twists and turns as unexpected changes interrupt your best intentions. But a purposeful attention to goals works better to turn hopes and dreams into results.
How close did you come to your personal and business goals? Did you take a purposeful approach or are you hoping that somehow you will stumble across the finish line? Which approach has a greater chance of bringing the results you want?