What Happened on the Way to Those Goals?

business goalsYes, it’s that time of year when we all look at our annual goals, both personal and professional, and say “oh” or maybe even “uh oh.” For businesses that employ an active strategic planning process, and by active, I mean regular monthly or quarterly reviews, the distance between where you wanted to be and where you are should be close. For those who don’t, I’m guessing there is a pretty wide gap between where you said you wanted to be and where you are.

Not to worry, let’s put some things in place to close that gap for next year. First, take a look at what your goals were and realistically measure how you did against them. Don’t give yourself a pass just yet on any of them, be brutally honest with yourself. You want to be measuring the delta between where you are and where you wanted to be. Now that you have the ugly truth staring you in the face, let’s examine what went wrong.

The debrief process is the best starting point for this. Ask yourself three questions: 

  • What went well?
  • What did not go well?
  • What will we change going forward?

Do this for each of your goals and you will likely see some common themes, for example:

  • You did not have the resources to make it happen – people, money, time, etc.
  • You overestimated your team or the market capacity to make it happen
  • You did not map out a clear process to make it happen – interim steps, tasks or goals along the way
  • You did not set up regular checkpoints to measure progress
  • You did not assign someone responsible for making it happen
  • The vision for what it looked like when complete was not compelling

OK, no point in beating yourself up for what didn’t happen this year, but if you end up at the same place next year? That’s no good and points to a deeper, chronic issue.

Based on what your answers were to the debrief and the most common themes as to why something didn’t happen, start now to get next year’s goals on track for success. Start with a clear compelling vision or reason WHY each need to happen. Then fill in the gaps between today and the vision by starting with your “big rocks” or strategic objectives. Create 3-7 goals for each and adhere to the SMART goals premise which is that every goal should be – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Based, Time-Bound. Look at all your lessons learned from last year and scale back or scale up depending upon the problems in your process.

Lastly, hold yourself and your team accountable for what is agreed upon. Get everyone excited about the destination and your team will get you there. Hold regular meetings with progress updates and adjust as necessary due to outside or internal influences that change things as the year goes on.

Remember that if you’re running a business, or your life for that matter, without a plan, any road will take you there. Don’t you want to make sure you’re on the right one?