Have you ever felt like you were wandering aimlessly?
You’re not sitting around doing nothing. You’re busy. You’re putting work in. And time.
But even with all your effort, sometimes it feels like you aren’t any closer to your goals than you were six months ago. And that’s super frustrating.
You have a good idea of where you want to go. You can taste how great things will be once you get to your desired destination.
But instead of taking the direct route to your dream business, it feels like you’re on a never ending detour.
If only you could get pointed in the right direction, your journey to building the business you desire would go much more smoothly. Not to mention, more quickly.
There is good news. There is something that can light your path from where you are, to where you want to go.
And when used effectively, you’ll be able to move forward with purpose in your quest to build your business.
The first step toward getting what you really want
One of my favorite past times is roaming around. When I travel to cities in other countries, I like to get a feel for the place and the culture. So I wander the streets and see what pops up. I watch what people are doing, and how they do it.
Sometimes I come across cool stuff. And other times, I get a really good walk. Most of the time, I don’t end up any place in particular.
But that’s a-ok with me. Because my objective is to roam.
But when I’m a little more pressed for time, I take note of the places I want to see. I check out the map, and then I make a plan for how to get from where I am to where I want to go.
Then I go off on a mission. And I don’t stop until I arrive at my landmark. It’s very different from when I’m wandering aimlessly.
Yeah, I still get a feel for the streets, but I do it while en route to my destination.
And that’s a-ok with me. Because my objective is to go to a specific place.
The same principle applies for your business. If you roam around aimlessly, with no real clear plan or thought about where you want to go, then you could just wander for days.
That’s perfectly fine if your objective is to stumble upon different things as you build your business. But I suspect your goal isn’t to wander in this instance.
When you are clear about where you want to go, and what you are trying to accomplish, then everything changes. You make a plan. Then you work your plan until you reach your goal.
So the first step in getting what you want, is defining what you want. In other words, you’ve got to set goals.
The booby traps that prevent you from reaching your goals
Did you know that only 9% of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions? It’s a pretty appalling statistic. But I understand why people have so much trouble realizing their goals.
It’s not that people are unambitious. It’s not even that they’re lazy.
It’s just that a lot of times, people make mistakes up front that derail their progress toward getting what they want.
Here are some common traps that can doom your goal attainment before you even begin.
You’ve heard these before: “I’d like to lose weight.” “I want to make more money.” “I want to grow my business.” These statements sound great in theory.
But in reality, they’re elusive. Intangible. Generic. And as such, they’re not helpful.
It’s a bit like typing instructions into your GPS that says “Go West.” The instructions might take you in western direction, but who knows where you’ll end up.
When it comes to reaching your goals, specificity is your friend.
That’s why when charities raise money, they set a clear objective, such as “raise $100,000.” It’s tangible. It’s easy to rally around. It’s easy to track progress. As a result, it’s super effective in making goals attainable.
Too much fairy dust
Another challenge people have is not basing their goals in reality. Yes, you’ve got to dream big. You’ve got to push yourself.
And you don’t want to make your goal something that’s so super easy, you could do it while barely breaking a sweat.
I’m talking about the goals that are just random success markers pulled out of nowhere, just for the sake of getting specific.
Fairy dust goals are unrealistic. There’s no substance to them.
It’s like planting seeds for an apple tree on a Wednesday, and expecting to see a bushel of ripe, juicy, ready to eat apples on Friday. Ok, maybe not Friday. Monday’s perfectly acceptable. Either way, it ain’t gonna happen.
When you set a goal, you have to have an appreciation for how long it will take to accomplish the task under normal circumstances. Once you understand all the work that’s involved in crossing the finish line, you’ll be in a better position to prepare yourself to get there.
So get rid of the fairy dust. It will only derail you from getting what you want. It’ll also set you up for a lot of disappointment.
Bad habits are notorious dream killers. Even when a goal is specific and sans fairy dust, not having the right habits can stop progress in it’s tracks.
Let’s say you would like to complete a book by the end of the year. Totally doable. Unless you don’t have a daily writing habit, or you write sporadically when you feel moved or when you have time. Then it’s likely the end of the year will come and go, and you still won’t have a book completed.
But if you consistently write 1000 words a day, it’s reasonable to assume you could have a first draft of your book complete at the end of 3 months. With a rough draft in hand, you’re well on your way to having a finished product by year’s end.
Habits are the key to reaching your goals. The consistency, the diligence in the effort brings you a step closer to the goal you’re marching toward each day.
Why stripping can help you reach your goals
In the rest of this post, I’m going to focus on the first enemy of goal setting, “being too squishy.” It’s the starting point to putting you on the path to success.
Besides, when you’re able to get specific with your goals, it’ll help you figure out the right plan of action. That’ll make it easier to steer clear of the other derailers.
The best way to stamp out vague goals once and for all is to do some stripping. Not stripper pole type stripping (just in case you weren’t clear).
I’m talking about stripping your objectives down. Stripping them naked. Stripping them down to the core. When you peel off all the unnecessary layers, you’ll clear the path to go straight to your destination. Instead of wandering around.
Here are a few reasons why.
1. It cleans the dirt off your glasses
Asking the question, “what is my objective?” is the most important question to ask when building your business, or taking on a new project.
Why is this necessary? Because so often people run off doing lots of different tasks and activities that don’t serve to help them achieve their ultimate goal. And they do this because the true motive that drives the behavior is all wrapped up and covered in a bunch of layers.
As a result, the ultimate need or goal is missed.
For instance, I know many entrepreneurs who put up a website solely because they think they need to have one. While websites are important, not knowing why it is for your business, or what it should accomplish for you makes it ineffective. You’ve just got a pretty website that doesn’t help you accomplish your goal.
So the task is complete, the website is up, but the real objective goes unmet. Because the true motives are all covered up.
By peeling back all the layers that surround your objective, you are able to evaluate what you really want.
A good way to get to the core of your objective is to continue to ask yourself why, until you can’t go any further. Take a look at the technique using the website example for Guillermo’s Tango Studio.
Guillermo: I need a website
Guillermo: Because it gives my business credibility
Sonia: Why (do you need credibility?)
Guillermo: So my customers will know that I’m not a scammy sleazeball
Sonia: Why (do your customers need to know you’re not a scammy sleazeball?)
Guillermo: So they will trust me enough to pay for my services (come to my classes)
Sonia: Why (do they need to trust you?)
Guillermo: Because people like to do business with someone they trust. Their money is hard earned, and they don’t want to waste it on someone who won’t deliver.
See what happened there? The initial objective of “I need a website,” becomes totally different once you peel back the layers with the “why” exercise.
Now that Guillermo’s goal is stripped down naked, you see that what he really wants is for his customers to trust him.
I know what you’re thinking. “Get customers to trust you” isn’t tangible. It’s still vague and elusive.
And you’re right. So here, we can attach a more tangible marker that demonstrates that Guillermo’s customers trust him. That could be as simple as them giving him their email addresses.
If he’s earned their trust, they shouldn’t have an issue giving him permission to enter their inboxes.
2. It lights up your path
Once you strip away all the extra layers, you’re able to see more clearly the path that will lead where you want to go. It will also help you decide which paths to stay away from.
For instance, Guillermo’s objective is to get his customers to trust him by sharing their email addresses. Now he should brainstorm ways to get his customers to know him, like him, and trust him.
Here are a few potential options:
- Provide valuable free content about tango techniques
- Get a degree or certification in “teaching tango” so customers knows he’s qualified
- Send Facebook invites to all his friends every time he gives a tango workshop
- Perform all over the city so potential customers see he knows how to dance
Guillermo decides that the best way to earn his customers’ trust is to provide valuable free content that teaches tango techniques.
3. It gives you permission to say no
Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you will do it, you can get rid of all the other junk that doesn’t advance you toward reaching that goal.
It’s easy to get into the buffet table fog and put a lot of different tasks on your business’ plate. But that will only slow your progress toward reaching your goal (or get you burned out quickly, which is no bueno).
Guillermo chose “providing valuable free content” as his plan for achieving his goal. So now he can stop doing activities that don’t contribute to him creating content.
4. It forces you to look in the mirror
Once you get to the core of your objective, you’ll be better able to see all that’s required to help you achieve it. Then can then decide if you are willing to do all that’s necessary.
Lot’s of times people have big dreams, but aren’t quite willing to do the work that’s required to get them there.
When you know the path in the beginning, you can have a heart to heart with yourself to identify if the journey is one you are willing to endure.
For instance, Guillermo loves to dance. And he loves to teach dance. But creating content is something new for him. It sounds promising, but there’s a lot for him to learn.
So before he commits himself to consistently delivering content to get his customers, he first has to decide if he’s willing to do what’s necessary to execute the plan.
If it is, full steam ahead!
If not, no shame at all.
However, he should revisit benefit #1 and #2 before moving forward.
5. It helps you make decisions
As you go through your day to day working toward your goals, different situations and opportunities may pop up. And you’ll have to figure out how to respond.
Having a stripped down objective can serve as a decision tree for you. Does the situation or opportunity align with your objective or help you advance it? If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn’t engage in it.
Guillermo has been working diligently for months creating valuable content. And his work is paying off as he build trust with his customers.
Then one day, he gets approached by a party promoter in the city who offers him $5000 to share all the email addresses he’s collected. The promoter says it’s for a big tango festival, so he thinks it totally make sense for Guillermo’s customers.
What should Guillermo do?
He refers back to his original stripped down objective. He wants his customers to trust him. And if they find out that he sold access to their inbox to someone his customers’ didn’t know, like, or trust, they wouldn’t like it.
All the trust he worked so hard to earn would be lost.
So Guillermo decides to turn the party promoter down, and keeps working on creating cracker jack content.
6. It helps you get out of bed
There will be days when you just won’t feel it. Truth. But you have to find a way to push past the “don’t feel like its.”
That way, when your mind starts singing a swan song about why it doesn’t want to do the work you need to do, you’ll have a response. You can quickly refer back to your objective, and think about what achieving it means to you and your business.
Use the outcome of achieving your goal as a reminder of why you’re working so hard.
When you’re objective is clear and it means something to you, it’s easier to shut down the inner voice of dissent. The one that wants you to take an easier route.
7. It draws others to you
Smart business owners don’t go it alone. They build a team to help them reach their goals.
When you are clear about what your goals are, it makes it easier for others to decide if they want to be a part of your journey.
People need help in eliminating the risk of why they should invest their time and resources with you.
When others can see what your true motives are, they’ll be able to decide if your goal is something that they want to be a part of.
It’s time to do some stripping
It’s time to advance your business forward. It’s time for you to make significant progress toward reaching your goals. No more wandering around.
So set your goals. Strip them down. Get clear about what you want.
The people who can benefit most from what you have to offer are waiting for you.
Don’t leave them waiting any longer than they need to be.
Add Your Awesome Comment
The title is certainly eye catching and draws you in. The rest of the article will blow your mind.
Thanks for all the tips and advice. I was happy to share it on my facebook page.
Sonia Thompson says
Naima – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! I’m super glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to strip down your goals, to make your dreams your reality.
Thanks for the share!
Great article Sonia. I challenge my clients to develop goals that are stretchingly realistic. Your style makes these insights easy to digest.
Sonia Thompson says
Thanks Kelly for stopping by Kelly!
Realistic goals are so super important. I’ve had a goal or two become victim to too much fairy dust in my day.
But sounds like you’re giving your clients sound advice. They are lucky to have you!