Year in Review: Are you on Fire, or are you Drowning?

With 2019 nearly upon us, it’s time to shift your focus from “finishing the year strong” to “setting better goals for next year.” Before you begin to create your 2019 goals, you need to evaluate how your company did this year in meeting the business goals you established 12 months ago. Did you accomplish what you planned to for 2018?

Many business owners do not take the time to do a critical analysis of their past, present and future goals in order to properly set themselves on a path of change and growth. Regardless if 2018 was your best year to date (you are on fire) or your company completely missed the mark (you are drowning), the following tips will help you make smarter, more realistic goals for your business that will motive you and take your team even further in 2019.

You’re on fire

Congrats! You are on track to meet or exceed your business goals for 2018. In 2019, dream a little bigger to not only push yourself a little further on your company’s annual goals, but also to identify your company’s Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) and how to work toward them.

A famous BHAG was President John F. Kennedy’s dramatic and ambitious goal in the 1960’s of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. Instead of creating a nondescript goal of “beefing up our space program,” the President committed to a bold, and at the time outrageous goal that was so easy to grasp, so compelling on its own, that kicked NASA into overdrive to achieve Kennedy’s goal on July 20th, 1969 when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface.

A BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort – often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal. Highly visionary companies often use bold missions (or Big Hairy Audacious Goals) as a powerful mechanism to stimulate progress. There is a difference between merely having a goal and becoming committed to a huge, daunting challenge – like climbing Mount Everest and putting a man on the Moon. In 2019, identifying what your company’s Everest is, and set a plan in place over the next 10 to 30 years to achieve it.

Key attributes of a good Big Hairy Audacious Goal are:

  • Inspiring – it motivates everyone in the company.
  • Be “just” possible – BHAGs should not be easy, but should be achieved if the whole company operated at the top of their game. The BHAG must be set with a realistic understanding of what the company can achieve. If it is set with bravado, it is more likely to demotivate.
  • Fit with your company’s strategy, purpose and values.
  • Consistent – the BHAG will have no credibility if you change it every few years. A BHAG that is big enough to inspire will take a decade of extraordinary effort to deliver.
  • Shared – not just created by the CEO but owned and shared broadly across the company.

You’re drowning

While it can be difficult and disappointing to miss your business goals, it is also an opportunity to reflect, readjust your goals and ultimately build a better business. The first step is to accept that it happened, hammer down where you got off track, analyze if your goals were truly realistic, and set a strategy in place so that you’ll meet or exceed your goal in 2019.

Setting unrealistic goals is the #1 goal-setting mistake. When you set unrealistic goals that may take longer to meet than you originally anticipated, it leads to discouragement when you fall behind and ultimately miss the goal. It’s possible for goals to be impractical, or not achievable within the time frame you’ve set. Sometimes, your goals can be too vague and unclear how you would measure success. When setting goals, use the SMART Goal setting strategy: make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

If you think that you could have achieved your goals but didn’t, examine where your goals got off track and determine a cause. Some reasons why goals haven’t been met could include:

  1. You did not have a strategy in place to meet them.
  2. You may have gotten caught up in the day-to-day of running your business and lost focus of your goals.
  3. Your employees never bought into the goal or aren’t motivated enough to achieve them.
  4. You may have set too many goals, and you were not able to achieve them all at the same time.
  5. External circumstances beyond your control could have led you to not meeting your goals. May they be a valuable lesson to learn from these unforeseen events?

In 2019, focus on setting smarter goals and try again. Put a specific strategy in place that breaks your annual goals into quarterly goals, and assign actions to them – who gets what done by when? Revisit your goals every 90 days to make sure you are staying on track with them and monitor if you may have to modify them to continue to finish the year strong.

By hosting an Annual Planning Day lead by an Accelerate ActionCOACH at your business, you will be guided through how to make an Action Plan for 2019, identifying SMART realistic annual goals, as well as BHAGs, with a step by step plan of how to meet your goals. Contact Us to set up a private Annual Planning Day at your business.

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