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How do you define success? Or more appropriately, how do you quantify success? What if I told you that you would fail two thirds of the time? Would you consider yourself to be successful? I want you to think about those deep and provocative opening questions for a moment while we turn our attention to goal setting. Goals are a staple of nearly every successful professional’s repertoire, but just setting an arbitrary goal will not lead to sustainable growth.
Broad goals, such as increasing sales by $1 million or spending more time at the gym, are wonderful in theory, but are often the types of goals left unattained. More specific goals will lead to better results, because you can track them by the incremental gains you are striving for. A goal of a $1 million increase in sales is much easier to track and define if your goal is to increase sales by $83,334 per month, or even better if your goal is to bring on 4 clients who each spend $20,834 per month. The holy grail goal of spending more time at the gym would be easier to track and maintain progress toward, if it were defined as go to the gym 3 times a week for 45-minute sessions until October, then increase to 4 times a week for an hour per session. By being specific you can easily track your goals and give yourself clear next steps to keep moving toward your ultimate lofty goal.
Another important thing to do when setting goals is to clearly define what a success is in your eyes. Is that $1 million sales increase a binary success/failure proposition, or would you consider it a successful year if you hit two thirds of that goal? Looking back at the original questions I posed to you, would you consider yourself successful while failing two thirds of the time? Turns out it depends on your profession and your perspective. If you are a surgeon and a “failure” was losing a patient, then unequivocally no, you would not be a successful professional if you failed two thirds of the time (in fact, one might argue that you were a serial killer). On the other hand, if you were a Major League Baseball player and your goal was to get a hit every third time you were up to bat, you would rank about 25th all-time in batting average if you obtained your goal, putting you ahead of all-time greats such as Joe DiMaggio and Wade Boggs.
Comparing an MLB player to a surgeon is a little absurd but goes to show how important it is to have goals specific to your profession, your situation, and above all, yourself. By setting specific personalized goals and tracking your progress, you should start to see consistent professional growth. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go try to convince my boss I only have to do one third of my job to give him a “Joe DiMaggio” level performance.
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