When it comes to goal setting, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Setting goals that are actually achievable and measurable is vital, not only to our success but to our confidence. And it all starts with what we base our goals on.
Ideals guide us but aren’t achievable.
For many entrepreneurs, coming up with big ideas is our bread and butter. In our imaginations, the sky’s the limit, and we can envision a future that might seem impossible in the present.
Having big dreams is part of what’s made you as successful as you are. While others might dismiss big dreams as “make-believe,” for you, it’s what keeps you fascinated and motivated and always growing. Having ideals helps you to envision your bigger future. But when you’re goal setting, it’s important to be able to distinguish make-believe from reality.
Our ideals are crucial. They help us look ahead and keep us inspired. Goal setting, however, requires that we extract achievable, measurable goals out of the abstract ideal. Ideals themselves are not achievable. But concrete goals are.
Measurement vs. make-believe.
The goals we set, based on our ideal vision of the breakthrough we want to achieve, must be measurable. They must be based on a specific number or specific event. An example of a measurable goal is “multiplying my revenue by 10x over the next five years” or “losing 20 pounds by March 1.”
If your goal is too abstract (“improve my business,” “get healthy”), it exists only in the realm of the ideal and will remain forever out of reach. When setting goals, remember—if it’s not measurable, it’s make-believe. Setting a non-specific goal means that you’ll never know for sure whether you’ve achieved it. If it’s too general, you’ll have no way of determining if you’re there yet or how far you have left to go.
When setting goals, remember—if it’s not measurable, it’s make-believe.
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The Gap and The Gain.
The way you measure your progress and achievements is crucial too and can make all the difference when it comes to your sense of achievement, happiness, and satisfaction. Using your ideals to come up with specific goals is great, but measuring your progress based on how far you still are from your ideals is detrimental to your confidence and sense of accomplishment and puts you in what I call “The Gap”—the permanent distance between where you are and your unreachable ideal.
Instead, always measure from where you started to where you are now. Looking back at the progress you’ve made puts you in “The Gain” where you can appreciate everything you’ve achieved. You’re measuring actual reality, and the progress you’ve made is real.
Being in this mindset gives you the motivation to continue to move forward to reach your goals. The Gap mindset, on the other hand, is demotivating and keeps you trapped in The Negative Zone where nothing you do is good enough and your bigger future vision is forever beyond your grasp.
Stay in The Positive Zone.
The ideal is not reality. It’s a feeling. And you can’t measure feelings. That picture you have of yourself in the future is make-believe. It only becomes possible when your goal setting involves specific measurables.
Almost everything new starts by believing in something that does not yet exist, but the specific goals you set will exist. The achievement will exist. You can’t measure actual reality against imaginings. You’ll always lose if you do that.
People who measure their progress and goals forward against their ideal are never happy with what they’ve achieved. No matter how many other people congratulate them and praise them for their accomplishments, they’re unable to recognize these successes themselves. Their mindset and way of measuring prevents it.
Be conscious and deliberate about always measuring your progress and achievements backward against your starting point in order to stay in The Positive Zone where even your wildest imaginations can be transformed into achievable goals.
You can be successful and happy or successful and unhappy. The difference is in how you measure your progress.
About the Author
Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.Follow on Twitter More Content by Dan Sullivan