How many times have you set goals and didn’t follow through?
You’re not alone. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs either struggled or continue to struggle with executing goals. This is one of the major pain points I experienced during the early stages of launching Wakanow, an online travel agency for people traveling to and from Africa. From personal experience and talking with other entrepreneurs, meeting goals is as tough as time management.
I’ve learned a few things over the years in business. These three lessons will give many business owners the competitive edge they need. In fact, they’ve helped me receive the AABLA award, Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa 2015. Here’s how to not only set goals, but also to achieve them.
1. Think big ‘realism’
Entrepreneurs naturally think big. It’s healthy for success. When setting goals, keep the big picture in mind, but approach goals in a realistic manner. First, separate the wants from the needs (you’ll be shocked at how many goals are not urgent) and ask a lot of questions.
For example, you may want to launch an updated product or service within a month, but do you truly have the bandwidth to complete the task? Consider your time and resources as well as those of everybody involved in the project. How many other projects do they have, and what do those timelines look like?
Once you assess what it will take to complete a goal, you might find that your project will take longer than anticipated. Factor in extra time to allow for unforeseeable circumstances. This will not only allow the process to run cleaner and smoother but will calm your nerves, allowing you to make more sound decisions.
2. Choose specific goals to chase
Now that you have realistic goals, how many should be in play at the same time? From experience, five to seven goals work well — with a bulk of those being short-term (say, within a quarter).
During the initial stages of Wakanow, I tried to achieve too much too soon. I juggled website design and development with launching affiliate partnerships (with multiple companies) all at once.
Once I learned to set a sustainable productivity rate to achieve my goals, I was able to dedicate more time to each one, and things happened quicker – much quicker. It’s easier to focus when you don’t have other ideas weighing you down.
3. Track progress
Just as solid analytics is an absolute must to analyze your company’s financial picture, it’s equally important to track the progress of goals. Use an excel sheet if you’re the analytical type, create a daily to-do list or use goal tracking apps like LifeTick, Strides or Way of Life.
I set an hour every morning to plan my day and block off time for each project or meeting. I also schedule a half hour to track the progress of my goals – both short and long-term. This technique helps to minimize the stress of actually executing each goal.
Think how hard entrepreneurs work to perfect their time management skills. Those who take these steps are usually the most successful.
Learn how to set realistic goals and execute them in non-stressful and efficient ways. These tips are the first step to achieving your goals.
This article has been edited.