Goals. Goals. Goals.

It’s hard to have a conversation during this time of year without the subject of goals coming up.

Most major corporations are having goals-related discussions right now because it informs the departmental and firm-wide budget reviews, along side employee performance appraisals. Both of which are used to determine 2017 business initiatives, staffing needs, and bonus payouts.

Most entrepreneurs are doing a look-back right now to evaluate what worked and what didn’t; what should they “kill” vs. what should they double-down on. This process helps to inform what goals to set in order to take their business to the next level – in a sustainable way.

And, most people are doing a personalized version of the above as they look at what they want to be different in the year to come – personally and professionally.

For all, the trifecta of reflecting on what happened (or didn’t), celebrating your wins, and recalibrating is in full effect. It’s the prism by which you evaluate your past and current goals, and it is one that informs the goals you’ve already made or are about to set for the new year.

As I do my own version of this for my life (personally and professionally); as I work with clients to help them gear up to make 2017 their best year yet (because isn’t that the goal each year – for it to be super-duper better than the previous one?), there’s a nagging feeling I can’t shake.

When you and I miss the mark in terms of achieving our goal(s), is it because we didn’t try hard enough? Is it because we didn’t have a strategy? Is it because we didn’t take action?

Or, is it because we set the wrong goal?

I’m beginning to lean more toward the latter.

Oh, you don’t set the wrong goal intentionally. No, it happens quite by accident. But the subtle difference between the “right” and “wrong” goal can have huge ramifications – on both your ability to achieve your goal and on your experience of making it happen.

Too nebulous?

Let me use an aspect of running my business to illustrate my point. As you may know, Tara Gentile is my business strategist. I LOVE working with her. Not only is she wicked-smart, with an uncanny ability to tap into the real challenge you’re facing. She’s never short on an idea that is usually contrarian in nature…and spot on.

Case in point: List building

Every new economy business relies on list building – from the Goliath’s like Amazon.com, to the David’s like the local Mom-n-Pop store in your neighborhood, to service-based businesses like mine. List building is a critical, multi-faceted tool (and tactic). It not only helps us stay in touch with clients and prospects, but it is also a medium that helps us to sell what we have to offer and to provide customer service.

Some folks tout their list size as a badge of honor. But as Tara highlighted during a recent call, what’s the point of, for example, having as a goal 10,000 people on your list if half of them don’t read what you publish or ever become a client or ever share your body of work with others? Isn’t it more valuable (and profitable) to have a more engaged list – even if it is a small one?

Turns out that “list building” for the sake of list building is not only a poor goal, it’s the wrong goal to have.

I see the poor goal/wrong goal mistake quite a bit with my clients and prospects. But, I also noticed where I’ve made the same blunder in my business this year.

Are you missing this subtlety when it comes to your goals? Can you see where the goal you’ve set is actually the wrong one – where you, too, are making the poor goal/wrong goal mistake?

I ask because all “wrong” goals have a few key attributes in common:

You mistakenly believe that all activity is equal
When you set the wrong goal, you tend to take the wrong daily and weekly actions, which then often leads to sub-optimal results. You mistake movement with progress.

You use tactics that are in support of the wrong strategy
When you set the wrong goal, you don’t realize (a) the misalignment between your tactics and your strategy, or (b) that you’re operating with a strategy that isn’t really designed to help you achieve the goals you want, or (c) you’re doing a little of both.

You use data for feedback regarding your efforts, but…
When you set the wrong goal, you track and measure the wrong metrics. Ever heard of GIGO… It’s hard to make smart moves and significant progress if your data is “bad.”

You forget the cardinal rule of goal setting and mapping according to…well, me
When you set the wrong goal, you tend to miscalculate the financial component of the goal – presuming you even identified that element in the first place. (This is an issue I harp on ALL the time!)

So, pay attention to the difference between the goal and THE goal. Missing this distinction very well may be the reason you missed the mark on some of your 2016 goals, and it could possibly block the success with the goals you aspire to achieve in 2017.

As you spend time this month and next reflecting, celebrating and recalibrating and use this trifecta to set your goals for 2017, here are three questions to ask yourself so you can avoid the “wrong” goal dilemma.

It’s important to ask yourself these three (3) questions for each of your goals:

  • For you to achieve this goal, how do you need to grow?
  • For you to achieve this goal, what do you need to do differently?
  • For you to achieve this goal, what do you need to let go?

Your answers to these questions will help you tap into the “why” behind each of your goals so you can identify THE goal. This way, you can be certain you’re setting the right goals, designing the right strategy and doing the right activities to support them, and creating the right accountability systems to keep you on track!

You could also give Money: Focus & Flow a shot, and tap into the power (and success) that comes from a weekly routine of questions and reflection. Click here to check it out.

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