Avoid setting only monetary goals

How to set – and stick – to business goals

lesley-mcluskeyAs we have just passed the halfway point of quarter four it’s fair to say that we are well and truly in the final straight of 2016. Year end is looming on the horizon and many business owners are starting to feel the ‘fear’ that they won’t hit their numbers.

Many are kicking themselves for setting such outlandish targets. So why do we set ourselves up for failure, and how can we set goals that we will actually stick to?

The problem is that business leaders are programmed to think in monetary terms. To them, money targets and goals are synonymous – it’s all about selling XX or reaching XX turnover. However, a financial goal in itself isn’t enough to guarantee success. To succeed, goals need an emotional attachment.

We work with business leaders across Scotland to help them grow their business and the first step on their journey of growth is identifying and setting emotional goals.

Saying I want to reach X £million turnover isn’t enough – you need to really think about why you want to reach a certain figure; what will it enable you to do? For example, will reaching a certain figure mean that you buy something you’ve always wanted? Or will it enable you to recruit someone, so you can take more time off?

Identifying an emotional goal isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It can take a lot of scratching under the surface to reach the real itch. For example, if the real goal is having more time, is it because you want to spend that time with a certain person or family member?

In which case, explore that goal and make sure you’ve set something that your heart really desires – such as a week away to place you’ve always wanted to go with the person who you’ve wanted to make time for.

That type of emotional goal is hugely motivating and, once identified, you can put some steps in place to reach it. Money is just the enabler. With an emotional goal in place, you’ll be much more likely to complete and stick to the steps that are necessary. Sales and turnover will increase as a by-product of this emotional goal.

Take some time to think about what you really want in life. Is it a material item that you’ve hankered after for years? Something that you could go and see every month while you are en route to achieving that goal? Or an experience or a holiday, which you could enjoy researching? Or time with family and friends, who you could speak with and reassure that it’s something you are prioritising?

As business leaders we can often become blinkered and forget what we are working for. By bringing this to the fore it actually improves the performance of the business – ironic as it was probably these drivers that made us start the company, but they were forgotten in the daily grind.

When a goal has an emotional connection it becomes more personal – it taps into our imagination and inspires and incentives us to succeed.

We are passionate about making sure we put into practice what we teach. At the beginning of this year we set a goal of being able to take a long holiday and have an adventure.

Running your own business can make it really difficult to take time out but we set the goal, paid the deposit for a motor biking trip in Darjeeling and Sikkim and then figured how to make it happen.

On 19 November we are setting off on our adventure. Our trip has grown a bit and we will now spend six and half weeks touring India from the top to the bottom including a yoga retreat in Goa and a two week cycling tour around Kerala. What we focus on tends to be the things we achieve and we have certainly been very focused on making this trip happen.

So when you look at your spreadsheet tomorrow, do yourself a favour and open a word document instead. Start thinking about and writing down why you are here in the first place and set some emotional goals. When you have identified these, the numbers will look after themselves.

Lesley McLuskey is a director at Sandler Training in Scotland

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