adammichaelbrewerIn most businesses, small business in particular, setting goals is applauded and usually taken for granted. We mark out our good intentions for the month, year, 5 and 10 year marks and even more.

The problem arises when after setting the goals, our sense of accomplishment seems to end there. Our feelings of security and satisfaction just from having completed the to do list and having the ability to look at our goals on paper doesn’t last for long. After that a sense of tension and worry set in as we look at these goals every day, wondering how we will ever achieve them.

We all fall victim to our goals for different reasons. Besides setting them too high and not giving ourselves an appropriate time frame in which to accomplish them, we also don’t realize that as everything else changes, our goals will need to change also.

Most of our wants, needs and aspirations are combined deep within our goals and really should be labeled as dreams. We spend a lot of time on our dreams, which tend to have no base or foundation upon which we can build them. We do ridiculous things in order to realize them and for those that do, once we’re there, we have a huge feeling of being let down and dissatisfaction and wonder why we wanted these things at all.

The largest hurdle is in setting the right goals and having a definite step by step method to achieve them. We have to be motivated to achieve them, otherwise the time we spend worrying about them takes away from what we really could be accomplishing with our time. Goals need to be extremely specific, realistic as to when they need to be reached and also practical. If we set the bar too low, we won’t have any reason to try hard enough to reach them and will just forget about them but if the bar is too high we’ll feel we aren’t doing enough, aren’t smart enough, don’t work hard enough to get where we want to go.

Every one of these things, as it puts your attention on something else, keeps you from working on other aspects of your business and slows down your progress in everything, leading to most of us giving up on ever reaching those goals we spent so much time writing down and looking at each day. Instead of rewarding ourselves each step of the way as our business grew, we forget about rewards and start to back pedal and redo what we thought what went wrong, since we didn’t reach a specific named goal. Whether through over simplification or letting things get out of control as we realized we would never reach a goal in time, we allowed our goals to control us, instead of the other way around.

We didn’t realize the difference between needs and wants and act accordingly. Knowing the difference between the two can help keep your business from backsliding and instead help you with your progress. Knowing when to set aside something that just isn’t working for your business can be a big decision, one that some business owners never make.

Let go of your plans and see if you can form new habits instead. Habits which aren’t rigidly adhered to but those, when kept in mind instead of a list of goals, will day by day increase how well your business is doing and also increase your ability to run your business proactively, rather than by following a set of instructions; instructions which may have outlived their usefulness. Our fear of uncertainty leads us into making goals that may not be what’s best for ourselves and our businesses. Small business owners have always been known for their unique methods of reaching their goals, their willingness to take on change at the drop of a hat and more than anything, their fearlessness – all qualities that don’t involve setting goals.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014

image courtesy of adammichaelbrewer