The Typical Process of Goal-Setting
In most sales and service-based businesses, the most common approach to “goal setting” starts with asking “how much money do you want to make this year?”
From there, you back out the specifics of the plan. In the real estate industry, it looks like this:
- how many transactions do you need to close?
- how many clients will you need to work with to close that number?
- how many prospects must you engage to generate that number of clients?
- how many leads do you need for that number of prospects?
- what do you need to do every month and every day to make sure you stay on track?
In other areas of your life you might work through a similar process.
Many people set reading goals:
- How many books do you want to read this year?
- How does that break down into monthly or weekly goals?
Some people have weight loss goals, and they do similar math:
- How much weight do you want to lose?
- What’s the time frame?
- Do the math to calculate how much you need to lose per week.
This method of goal-setting has its place, and its merits.
It’s also overly narrow in its approach to planning, which I’ll leave for another time.
Before we can even discuss the various issues that arise in how you’re going to meet your target, the first order of business is to question the target.
What’s Driving The Number?
If you’re starting from a premise of defining the number first — How much? or How many? — then it also makes sense to ask: Why?
Why that number?
- Why not 5 percent more or 5 percent less?
- Why not 2 percent or 1 percent more or less?
- What do you expect that number will give you?
- What will it do for you?
- Who or what is influencing that number?
- Do you simply want to do more than you did last year (or weigh less)?
- Is it the number that you think will win you awards or help you rank at the top of a list?
- Is it what you think you should want?
- Is it what someone else is telling you to aim for?
Many people set a target that doesn’t reflect what they really want.
You’re after the number because you believe it will give you something else.
If you want to read 50 books this year, why 50? What does that give you? Is it possible that you could get there if you read 10 books and actually integrate those books into your life?
Question the number.
Another Side of SMART Goals
You may have read about the importance of “SMART” goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound.
Although having a number target can help you stay on track, it’s helpful to recognize that another side of SMART goals: meaningless and arbitrary.
Before you invest effort to drive to a destination, before you even invest effort in planning the route, it makes sense to spend some time considering where you really want to go, and why.
A bonus reason for questioning the metrics: Once you know your real destination, you tend to find more options for how to get there.