There is something that no one tells you at school – when you write down a goal you are more likely to actually do it. To back this theory up a study conducted by Harvard to find out why 3% of its graduates made ten times more money after they graduated than the other 97%(1). One of the primary reasons was that the top 3% took the time to write down and clarify their goals. Why would a small handful of student who managed to write down and clarify their roles wind up making more money? They committed themselves to an outcome, put importance on their plan, carefully stepped out their goals and sent positive messages to their brain so that they could make those goals happen.

On the other hand, if there is no plan, it means the end destination doesn’t matter. Under this method, the path you take will take you to a place, somewhere. It’s when that ‘somewhere’ becomes a destination that you actually want to be in, and it affects your future, that a plan starts to matter. Even the staunchest chaos theorists know that one small internal change will predictably result in changing the course of an entire system2. A plan allows those unpredictable changes to occur, adjusting the system to get back to the ultimate destination. Writing down your goals, making them specific with deadline (3) really is a simple way to get the wheels in motion in a business or team.

However, changing the course of a business can be challenging and communicating where you want to be and how you propose to get there can be difficult. Finding out how to write a goal down is an important skill. Being too broad, general and without a timeframe won’t ignite an outcome. For example, a business may want to be “the biggest and the best” in their category. The goals come after that initial vision is set, which may take the form of “retrain sales staff to cross sell”. It is important to draw a distinction between a vision and goal. A vision is that ‘big picture’ ‘blue sky’ statement. A goal is a step, something that is tangible, that follows that vision. A goal isn’t a thought or emotion – it’s an action. A set of goals is a roadmap of actions that make sure that the changes that you are doing inside your business are still predictably able to get your business where you want it to go (vision).

Finally, after setting goals such as SMART goals that have been used in business for decades (Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Timely)4, let’s not forget Feedback. Without feedback we are setting a rigid set actions to perform without knowing if they are actually making a difference5.

Remembering to check, evaluate and collect feedback for each set of goals. Making plans can be quite exciting, especially when the course you have set for yourself and your business truly meaningful.

Online references:
http://www.lifemastering.com/en/harvard_school.html
2  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
http://elitedaily.com/money/writing-down-your-goals/1068863/
http://communicationtheory.org/management-by-objectives-drucker/
http://www.workplaceleadership.com.au/blog/beyond-smart-goals-robust-approach-goal-setting-jdBk/

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