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Staying focused on your annual goals: a user’s guide

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By some estimates, 80 percent of annual goals are already failing by February. Focusing on your annual goals in this critical implementation month is smart business strategy.

Here’s a user’s guide to acting on your goals before they become just good intentions.

1. Document your goals.

Putting your goals into a form that you can review and revise easily is key to staying on track. Not a writer? Consider developing a visual infographic or mood board to capture the intent of your goals. You can also use goal-setting software tools, such as the ones listed here.

2. Set interim outcomes.

Let’s say your business revenue was $35 million last year, and your goal is to increase revenue by 30 percent this year. What might that look like on a monthly or quarterly basis? For example, you might set monthly revenue goals for first quarter that are less than a 30 percent increase. Since it’s February already, chances are you’ll need the first quarter to put processes in place and manage your learning curve as you work towards your goals.

3. Review your goals weekly.

Determine which day and time of day you feel most focused and open to stepping away from daily operations. Claim that time as your own for reviewing and refocusing on your goals. Keep a recurring weekly appointment with yourself to assess the past week’s activities and define actions you can take during the coming week that will move your business in the direction of your goals.

4. Take daily action.

What can I do — right here, right now — that supports the goals I’ve set? Asking yourself this simple question on a daily basis is a powerful way to keep yourself on track. For example, re-engaging with a lapsed prospect instead of having lunch with a friend you see regularly might be a better use of your goal-focused time.

5. Benchmark opportunities to your goals.

It’s called “Shiny Object Syndrome.” You’ve set your goals, and then you get distracted by a new idea, or a shot-in-the-dark possibility. When an idea or opportunity surfaces, test it against your goals with the following questions:

  • Does this idea or opportunity bring me closer to achieving my goals? How?
  • Is pursuing this idea/opportunity the best use of my time, compared to what I could be doing?
  • How will pursing this idea/opportunity affect activities that support my goals?  

“The main thing is to keep the main thing a main thing,” advised leadership expert Stephen Covey. Focusing on your goals is the single most valuable asset you can bring to your company on a daily basis. Especially in the month of February.