There are a lot of self-improvement tips that focus on helping you achieve your goals. Some of them make some pretty good points, and some of them are just a lot of fluff. I thought I’d share some tips that I know can help in many different areas, because I’ve used them myself.

Have you ever hopped in the car and taken off, intent on getting someplace, without having any idea where you wanted to go? Not likely, and if you did, it probably didn’t work out too well. Achieving a goal is the same way… if you don’t know your destination, you’re not likely to reach it. So the first step is to:

goalSet your Goal

You need to set a clear goal for yourself – one that is clear and realistic. “Increase brand awareness” isn’t really a goal – it’s too vague. And “control the majority of our market” isn’t realistic for most companies. Set a goal that you can realistically achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Once you think you have a realistic goal, you may want to:

Break it up into Manageable Pieces             

Maybe your grand goal is to increase your market share from 10% to 25%. That could take a while, and keeping focused and motivated over the long haul isn’t easy. Break it up into smaller chunks that can show your progress and you may find your progress easier to maintain.

Focusing on gaining .5% or 1.0% per quarter, for instance, will give you mini-goals that seem much more achievable than a 15% increase over 2 or 3 years. As you start implementing the steps to realize your goal, be sure to:

Track EVERYTHING

On the way to any goal, there will be inevitable bumps and potholes, which will sometimes mean we have to make adjustments in order to maintain progress. The sooner we see those problems arise and make the necessary adjustments, the less time, energy and money we’ll waste.

By keeping comprehensive records of any actions taken that might affect the business, you’ll have solid data that can often tell you exactly why you went off course and what adjustments you need to make.  For those records to be able to  provide real value, of course, you need to:

social-media-roiMeasure your Actions and Results

You can’t just record the fact that you launched a new promotional ad or improved production by some percentage… you have to quantify every action and measure and record every result, regardless of how insignificant you might think it is. The reality is that very little goes on in a business that’s totally insignificant.

What was the reach of that new ad? What response rate did you see from it? What step in your production process improved and how? Find exactly what you did, measure it and record it. That information may be invaluable down the road.

Never Pull Up

if you find yourself lagging behind, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear me say you need to push a little harder. But what if you find yourself surpassing your short-term goals? Maybe you targeted 1% gain in market share for the quarter, but you suddenly realize that you’re going to hit closer to 1.75% gain? Why would you not push on, making every effort to hit 2%?

If instead, you find yourself pulling up, because you already passed the mark you set for the quarter, then you’re admitting that you’re one of those “good enough” people. If you aren’t willing to shoot for excellence when the opportunity is handed to you on a platter, maybe being in business for yourself isn’t the best path for you.

Pulling it All Together

If you set realistic, measurable goals, in manageable chunks, measure and record your actions and results and never stop trying to do better, you’ll find your goals are easier to reach. And with every goal you achieve, the next one will seem less daunting.

Approaching the management of your business from a scientific angle (without losing sight of the human side) can give you an edge on the competition and help you respond faster to the everyday bumps. Remember Pearson’s Law:

That which is measured, will improve.