Goal Setting Without the "Busyness"


As we head into the new financial year, it is the perfect time to reflect on our achievements from the year just gone and think about what we want to achieve over the next 12 months.  Starting the year with a plan or an overarching intention really helps to focus our activities to ensure that we don’t end up lost in the busyness cycle.

What is the busyness cycle?

Well you know that feeling where you are working every hour under the sun and then some, yet never feel like you’re getting anything crossed off your list?  That’s the busyness cycle!  We’re reactive; jumping on tasks as they pop up around us, without actually giving a thought to how those tasks move us forward towards our business goals.

Now if this is you, then join the thousands of other business owners, team leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals all over the globe that succumb to busyness and we can address this another time; for now, here’s 7 steps to set ourselves up to have our most productive year yet.


STEP 1: Set your intention

Sometimes referred to as a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) or Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) we first need to consider what our overarching intention is.  What is the ONE thing that if everything else remained constant; would have the greatest impact on our business if changed?  One thing; and put that at the top of the priority list.


STEP 2: Get SMART with your WIG

Here I’m not talking about personal grooming habits, but more about refining the overarching goal set in step 1 to ensure that it is measurable within a defined time period.  For example if in step 1 “increase sales revenue” was identified as the WIG; we need to make it smarter by adding some tangible detail.  E.g. “Increase sales revenue from XYZ product line by 25% by 30 June 2020.”

“What is the busyness cycle?

Well you know that feeling where you are working every hour under the sun and then some, yet never feel like you’re getting anything crossed off your list?  That’s the busyness cycle!”  

STEP 3: Commit

When President Kennedy announced to the public that NASA would send a man to the moon and bring him safely home within the decade, the accountability to achieve that goal went through the roof.  Now I am not saying declare your WIG to the world; but commit to it, your way.  At the very least, write it down and tell someone; make yourself accountable to actually achieving it.


STEP 4: Ensure business wide buy in

If our business is just us, then we would assume business wide buy in to the goal.  But when there are more people involved it becomes important to address the “what’s in it for me” factor.  Whilst the WIG might be the focus for the leadership team, it may mean nothing to customer support staff or IT technicians for example.  What needs to happen next is to break the business wide WIG down into departmental WIGS – mini WIGS if you will, that all feed into the greater goal and mean something to the team working towards achieving them.

STEP 5: Track your progress

So now we have our overarching intention and we know what each team or department needs to accomplish for the business to achieve its goal.  Now what?  Well we need to know what to actually do to make it happen.  Think of the WIG as the war; what battles do we need to win in order to win the war?

This is where a lot of businesses fall short; the goal can be set perfectly, but no one has any idea what they need to do to achieve it and how they are tracking.  Before long, we get bored of this and divert off track…imagine watching a footie game with no scoreboard!  We need to understand the key actions we each need to take in order to achieve the goal and we need to “keep score” so everyone knows where things are at.

In the example above, think about tasks that might need to happen to ensure the revenue goal is reached.  We might ask ourselves and our team questions like how many sales conversations are we having?  What is our conversion rate?  How up to date with product training is our team?  How many marketing touch points are we reaching in our market?  Once we have extracted all the things that need to happen – set targets and create a scoreboard to track the progress.


STEP 6: Break it down

We don’t eat a giant T-bone by trying to stuff the entire thing into our mouth at the one time (well, most of us don’t).  Likewise we don’t attack a WIG by trying to achieve everything all at once.  Start by breaking things down into 90 day segments.  Project yourself to 1 April 2020; 90 days from WIG d-day.  What will you have achieved up to this point and what will you need to focus on for the last 90 days.  Then go again; it’s 1 January 2020 – what have you achieved to date and what will you need to achieve in this next 90 days and so on.

From here we can chunk down further and go down to monthly, weekly or even daily tasks, that when achieved, we know we are one step closer to achieving the BIG ONE!


STEP 7: Celebrate the wins

This is the simplest, most effective, yet most often overlooked step.  Even though there is a big target to achieve, we need to ensure we celebrate the small stuff!  Not only does this give us a sense of achievement; it also actively engages us into having a focus on the bigger picture.  The big goal is important, but without the small wins, it will not happen!

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