What Resolutions Can Teach Us About Business Goals

by Meredith Falb January 22, 2016
January 22, 2016

Every January, the gym is packed with new faces – the “resolutions crowd” – who quickly disappear as the realities of getting to the gym every day outweigh the dreams of flat stomachs and bulging biceps. With this pattern repeating every year, it’s easy to wonder why so many continue to make promises they are not likely to keep.


You might also face some of the same difficulties when setting your business goals for the coming year. Many reasons for failure to meet goals apply on both the personal and professional front. The five pieces of advice below might help you achieve those lofty ambitions.


Focus on Behaviors, Not Only End Results


People often set an extreme goal, like losing 30 pounds before the summer and get demotivated when it doesn’t come true immediately. In order to achieve a goal, the process needs to be broken down into steps, such as giving up your 3pm visit to the vending machine and walking during your lunch break.


From a business perspective, smaller steps must also be put into place in order to reach a final goal. For example, if you’re trying to get your team to increase sales by 10% next year, give them some behavioral goals to meet that will help them along the way, like challenges to make a certain number of cold calls per day or attend at least 2 networking events per quarter.


Keep Goals Realistic


You’re setting yourself up for failure right off the bat by setting a goal that you have little chance of achieving. If you’re resolving to pay off credit card debt, make sure the monthly payments are at a level where you can still afford rent, to put food on the table, and have a little fun once in a while.


It’s easy to get carried away with business goals because of the pressures you’re under to meet certain numbers. Stretch goals are great, but if you know your team has little chance to meet a benchmark you’ve set, they are likely to get frustrated and give up. Make sure your goals are based in reality and not solely on what you would like to see happen.


Keep the Scope of Change Manageable


While it’s admirable to resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, and do more volunteer work, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to focus on several major things that each take a tremendous amount of effort all at once.


In the same vein, a lot of managers enter the New Year overly optimistic, hoping to make drastic changes that put pressure on the team to produce unattainable results. For example, it might be too much for your team to shorten turnaround time while reducing overhead and also growing existing business. Focus your energy on one major thing you’d like to work on and don’t overwhelm your employees with too many expectations, especially if they conflict.


Recognize Milestones


If you wait to celebrate the big milestones, like every time you lose 10 pounds, you’re likely to get frustrated midway through. Treat yourself when you reach an incremental milestone with something special that will not derail your goals, like getting a massage to work out muscles that are sore from exercise.


In the same vein, do not wait until you reach the big end of year goal to recognize your employees. If you see your team working hard along the way, make sure to acknowledge their efforts at that time to give them the encouragement they need to continue pushing. Take some time at the end of each month or quarter to celebrate how far you’ve come by sharing wins and analyzing losses.


Rely on Others for Support


Having a partner or team to keep you accountable and motivated can make a world of difference. People who work out or diet with friends usually stick with it longer than those who try to go it alone.


When looking to achieve a business goal, forming project teams is also a great way to ensure that employees have a constant source of creativity, support, and motivation.


Keep these guidelines in mind when looking to make business resolutions for your team this year. Remember to set smaller, more achievable objectives along with the stretch goals and celebrate those successes along the way to keep the team motivated.

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