Be SMART with your goal setting

While revenue goals are critical to every business, working with them strictly from an analytical viewpoint would be a mistake.

We’ve all been taught about “SMART” goals (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited), but there’s something missing from this piece of wisdom. It’s something very fundamental to helping you actually achieving your goal.


Consider this: 70% of our New Year’s goals are never met; I believe it’s partly because people create “should” goals instead of “want” goals!

Question: What’s missing?

Answer: How much you actually care about the goal!

How do you feel when you tell yourself that you should become more profitable in 2016? Or that you should lose weight this year? It may be because there is shame, failure, and disappointment attached to should goals.

When I review annual goals with clients they often groan and a look of dread crosses their faces.  When I ask about it, they respond with comments like: I don’t know if I can do it; I feel guilty that I didn’t grow the business last year; It feels overwhelming. They simply don’t feel good about their goals.

While revenue goals are critical to every business, working with them strictly from an analytical viewpoint would be a mistake. Our emotional connection to numbers is often based in fear–and that’s not a very positive motivator.

So how can we reframe these worthy goals to make them more desirable and more likely to happen?

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’ve set a goal to grow your revenues by 15% in 2016. Consider what that means to you. Does it mean that you can hire a PA and spend more time with the family? Does it mean that you’ll have the money to execute a new product launch that you’re excited about?  That you will be able to buy your spouse their dream car or take the kids to Disney or your girlfriend on a Caribbean holiday?

beach canoe

Always look at the emotional driver behind your goals. How does it make you feel when you think about achieving the outcome? Recognising your good feelings will transition you from a shameful should to a passionate want, thereby create a much higher likelihood of achieving your meaningful goals. After all, positive emotion drives action far, far more effectively than negative emotion.

Start by adding these five simple ingredients to your goal-setting strategies, and try to take notice of a few things. Notice the difference in how you feel when you think about your financial goals from a position of want rather than should. The key here is to pay attention to your physical response. Do you get butterflies in your stomach? Do you feel a sense of excitement? These are the things we are looking for. If you don’t experience at least one positive sensation then you haven’t dug deep enough for your positive emotional connector.

  1. Find a Real Challenge

Make your goal compelling and achievable–yet challenging. Brilliant minds need a challenge; otherwise boredom will set in and your plan will fall to the wayside. State your goal in writing.


  1. Stick to Positive Emotional Connectors

Make a list of the positive things that will result from achieving this goal. Stay away from subtly negative statements like “I will worry less.” Dig for things that excite you. Your outcome must be something that you look forward to with great anticipation and enthusiasm.


  1. Create a Visual Representation

Find some fantastic images that represent your outcome. If an increase in revenue means that you can buy a bigger house, find images that represent one which is ideal. If it means that you will have the budget to work with a distributor who has connections to your ideal clients, find images of your prospect’s logos or shopfront.  Cut your images out and glue them onto a poster or piece of paper. Congratulations! You have just created a vision board!


  1. Share

Bring others into your vision by sharing your vision with employees and others who are critical to achieving company goals. Help them to connect to it as well.  Ask them what these goals mean to them and what exciting outcome they can attach to the vision. Share this exercise with them and encourage them to create a vision board too!

Goal setting is as important in business as it is in life. It’s also the common denominator of successful businesses and individuals. Remember, your goal might need to be updated to incorporate your lessons learned or changed completely if you discover that the goal isn’t appropriate to what you want.  Revisiting your goal at regular intervals and updating it keeps it fresh as something you still care about.


And as always, I am here to help you set and achieve your goals!

And don’t forget…. Always celebrate your achievements!

Andrew Cussons

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