Achieving goals is quite different than just setting them. So while the first step may be to set the goals you really want, then we have to prioritize our actions from high to low. What is the most important thing that I need to do in order to get there? Because generally, you can come up with a dozen or a hundred different things that you’re going to need to do to reach your goals. But there’s probably one to three things on there that are going to be more important than the other 97.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing achieving your goals. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Hey, so glad to be here, David, and once again, I’m looking forward to this discussion. We hear people talk about goals all the time, and I know for me it’s something that I struggle with because what will happen is I’ll set those goals.

I really haven’t defined how I’m going to get there, and then when I don’t achieve them, it becomes something that deflates me. So I think for a lot of people, goal setting can work against them.

David: I think it can too, because I believe there is a lot of focus on goal setting, and it’s something that we do, particularly at the beginning of a new year.

A lot of people focus on their new year resolutions, which are their goals. And while there’s been a lot written about goal setting, the importance of goal setting, writing things down, reviewing it regularly, having your affirmations and things like that.

All of those things are certainly helpful, but they don’t actually, directly connect to the idea of achieving the goals. And that’s why I wanted to title this the way that I did, because setting your goals has been done to death, but how do we go about achieving it? And I think it’s interesting to explore that aspect of this topic.

Jay: Well, yeah. And one of the things that frustrates me is, when people talk about goal setting, they tend to assume that everybody’s the same.

Oh, just follow this and you’re great. It’s like, I read seven Habits of Highly Successful People and what was never mentioned or considered in that was, it was also seven habits for highly organized people already.

You had already achieved a level where all you had to do was put these things in place and you’re good.

Well, what about me? I wasn’t raised with systems and those kind of things, so what about me? I didn’t feel like there was any place that I could implement that.

David: Yeah. And that is very common. I mean, I think everyone probably deals with that because unfortunately, when you’re writing a book that’s going to be on a shelf for a long period of time, you have to include things that are essentially timeless.

And the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I mean, it’s such a great book. It’s a very inspirational read. But when you’ve got rules, like “Be Proactive,” that’s a big, broad rule, right? And. In many cases you can be proactive, but what does that mean? It gets down to the nitty gritty.

And we’ve talked in the past about Michael Gerber, the author of the E-Myth. And I love that book.

The E-Myth, The E-Myth Revisited. I read the original copy a long, long time ago, and I just loved it. I’m like, okay, because this was all about processes. And that book talked primarily about the fact that you have to have processes.

But then what are those processes, right? Because that’s the part that people like you and I need. It’s like, okay, well what are the processes and how do I do that and how do I make that happen?

And so, so much of my career has been focused on that. Okay, how do I turn this great recommendation, “be proactive,” you know?

Jay: Yeah.

David: “Work on your business, not just in your business.” How do I take broad statements like that? To some extent, they become platitudes, and how do I turn that into something that is actionable?

Because that is the only way we’re going to be able to achieve our goals, is if we are able to convert those great ideas into actionable tasks.

Jay: Yeah. and such a key point. I think for me, what I found is I have to break it down enough to where I can feel that feeling of success instead of failure. Right?

So it’s got to be minute enough to where I can say, okay, I did, I accomplished something. And it could be something very simple. But that motivates me to the next step. I find if they’re too big, then I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

David: Absolutely. But I think anyone who reads any sort of self-help material or any sort of business material, if you can take what they’re giving you and then just ask yourself right away, “how do I apply this right now to my business?” Again, Seven Habits, “begin with the end in mind.”

Jay: Right.

David: I mean, you could find that in a fortune cookie, right? It’s brilliant advice, but it’s like, oh, hey, yeah, that’s really great. Now, again, in fairness, because it’s an excellent book.

Jay: Yes.

David: And he goes into a lot of detail about some different ways that you can do that. But in some sense it has to be general. And that’s why, if you’re able to ask yourself that question, “how do I apply this now?” It’s going to get you a lot closer to being able to achieve your goals.

Because now it’s not about concepts, it’s about you: Your activities, your focus, and what your next step is.

Jay: Yeah, so let’s get into a little bit more detail. I’ve asked myself, “how do I accomplish this now?” Is that a list you would write down or how would you recommend people proceed from that point?

David: Well, yeah, I think what I would generally want to start with is thinking in terms of resources. What am I going to need to achieve this goal?

Okay. because once I’ve written down the goal, my goal is X amount of dollars in sales by the end of the year. My goal is to sell X number of customers by a certain date. Whatever your thing is, now you’ve got the goal.

All right. Well, the goal, as I said, that’s kind of the easy part. Now we need to think in terms of, okay, what are the resources? What am I going to need in order to be able to accomplish this goal?

Can I do it by myself? Am I going to have to hire additional staff? Hopefully you’re not. But you need to know upfront. Because if you don’t take the time to consider the resources that are needed, versus the resources at your disposal, then you won’t even know if you’re taking actions that are not going to allow you to get to your goal.

But if you take the time to think upfront, okay, what are the resources I’m going to need? Who am I going to need? Right? It’s not just about the things. It’s also about the people. Am I going to need additional help with this? And if so, what kind of people am I going to need?

There’s an excellent book that’s out now called Who Not How, by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Ben Hardy. And it talks about the fact that when we’re looking to get things done, a lot of times we think in terms of “how am I going to do this?” When in fact we’re often better served by saying, “who can help me with this, who can help me get this done?”

And that goes back to the resources.

If I have a clear idea of what I’m going to need and who I’m going to need, then it’s going to be a lot easier to get to the goal. And then ultimately, how much am I going to need?

How much am I going to need in terms of resources, in terms of money, in terms of people, in terms of time.

Time is always one of those resources that you need to evaluate upfront, and if you don’t do that, you’re never going to get beyond the fortune cookie aspect of what it is we’re talking about here.

Jay: Yeah, you’ve kind of brought up negative emotions with me because it reminds me, I grew up in the restaurant business. And before I became an area manager and a regional manager, I remember my area manager coming in every year and we’d have to set sales goals.

And so first of all, it was a complete shot in the dark. It was based upon air. Right? Just how much do you want to increase your sales? And second of all, there was never any instruction on how you’re going to do this.

And so, how do you do it as a restaurant? I’m not in control of the marketing budget because it was a chain, so what am I going to do? Nobody ever said, well, you can increase your sales by doing A, B, C, and D.

They just came in and set this arbitrary goal, and at the end of the year I was beat up because I didn’t reach that goal. And I’m like, this just becomes a bludgeon that creates disappointment.

David: Right, because the focus there is on the what.

Jay: Yes.

David: What is it that I want to accomplish? Just like we’re talking about with goals. This is the goal. Okay. The goal is established very early on. But then every day, every hour preceding that, you need to ask yourself, am I on track?

And that’s going to go back to, you know, first of all, do you have a plan in place? Because if you don’t have a plan for achieving your goal, then it’s not going to happen. But then beyond the plan, do I have the resources? Do I have them in place? Am I firing on all thrusters?

Jay: Mm-hmm.

David: Are we doing the things that we need to do in order to accomplish it? And then also just adapting, recognizing that, let’s say you establish your goals today, you lay out a plan today, and you’re starting on it tomorrow.

Well, as soon as you start it, it’s like that old quote, I don’t know if it was Colin Powell, some military general talked about the fact that “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Jay: Yes.

David: And it’s the same thing with a goal in business. It’s not going to survive contact with prospects and clients. You set your goal in terms of what you want to reach, but every day you’re going to be taking actions, some of which will work and some of which will not.

At which point you need to be able to discern what’s good, what’s bad, what’s working, what’s not, so that you can jettison the stuff that isn’t working, do more of the stuff that is, and ultimately achieve those objectives.

But too often, just like New Year resolutions, we write them down January 1st and we don’t think of them again until December when we realized we’re nowhere close, because we never had the plan in place, we never had the resources in place, and we didn’t take consistent action.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And back to my own example, when I became an area manager, I resolved not to be that guy who put my managers in that place. And so I identified an action plan of how you can increase your sales.

Starts with excellent customer service. Who are you putting on the front lines? How do you handle complaints? How do you assess your customer service? Then it went to quality of product. Are you following guidelines? Are you building the product the way that it should be? Is it consistent?

So there was a checklist that they could go through and then they would see the results happen. To me, that was empowering as opposed to deflating.

David: Yes. When you empower your employees with the specific steps they need to take in order to accomplish the objectives, that’s exactly what they need.

Jay: Yes.

David: You know, there’s a difference between lead measures and lag measures. I’m sure you’re familiar with that concept as well.

Jay: Mm-hmm.

David: And our goals are usually lag measures. I want to be able to get to this amount of sales. But what are the lead measures that are going to make that happen?

So when you talk about customer service being a first key, and then breaking that down, what does that mean? If you’re answering a phone, how many rings do you have? Do you have to answer it within three rings or 30 rings? Because that’s going to determine the experience of the customer.

You can’t control how the customer’s going to feel, but you can control what you do on the front end to at least help to impact that experience.

Jay: Yeah, and we had it as much as, you know, I had a really good employee in the back of the house, but not so good with customers, not a very good communicator. So I’d never put him on that interface with customers. It doesn’t mean he couldn’t help me in other places.

So being that specific about each of those goals is so important.

David: Yeah, I think so too. And I believe you want to start with setting goals that you really want, that are important to you. Because if you don’t have a really solid, great feeling about it, if you don’t have that, that driving “why” behind it, I really want this because it’s going to allow me more freedom in terms of my time, or it’s going to allow me to spend more time with my family or do more of the things that I want.

If your goals don’t motivate you, then once again, you’re going to forget about them very quickly, or the moment some sort of temptation comes up that’s designed to derail you from your focus. So the first thing is you set the goals you really want, then you prioritize them from high to low.

What is the most important thing that I need to do in order to get there? Because generally, you can come up with a dozen or a hundred different things that you’re going to need to do to reach your goals.

But there’s probably one to three things on there that are going to be more important than the other 97. So prioritizing is key. After you’ve set the goals, you got to prioritize what is that list of actions, and then it’s a matter of just focusing on each one.

And as we talked about in the previous podcast, we were talking about declaring independence from business as usual, looking at that and saying, I’ve got to be consistent about implementation because if I’m not, there’s no way it’s going to happen.

Jay: Yeah and this last one you mentioned, focusing on getting them done. This is where so many times it falls down. And where if you do have a staff, you can really destroy your credibility.

Because again, back to my own experience, company rolls out a new company-wide goal. For three days they’re pounding it and watching it. On day four, and forward? You never hear about it again.

And what that does is it teaches everybody that, well, we just have to stay in line for a couple of days and then it’s going to disappear. And so you’re actually working against yourself at that point.

And so it’s something I resolve to never do. You have to have systems of follow up. You can’t just say, “oh, we’ll follow up.” Have dates, have benchmarks, have things that are built in to help you track where you’re at at all times.

David: Right, and just because they stopped talking to you about it after day four doesn’t mean they’re, they’re still going to hold you accountable for

Jay: True.

David: They’re not going to hold you accountable for it 362 days later, right?

Jay: Mm-hmm.

David: They’re going to say, Hey, we talked about this. Why didn’t you hit it? It’s like, oh, are we still doing that? I forgot about that. That was, that was a long time ago.

Jay: Yeah. Absolutely. Again, I love this discussion, David, how can people find out more?

David: You can go to to schedule a call with myself or my team. We love having conversations like the conversation that Jay and I are having here. We love having conversations with smart, focused, bright business people who are not just interested but committed to getting to the next level in your business.

If you’re just interested, it’s like, “oh, it’s kind of cool. It’s kind of interesting, maybe.” No, forget it. Because that’s not going to get you there. But if you’re serious, if you listen to these podcasts, particularly if you’ve been listening for a long time, if you haven’t scheduled a call yet, do it today.

Now’s the time to do it. We’ll have a conversation. You’ll love it or you won’t love it. If we’re five minutes in and you say, this isn’t going anywhere. Perfectly fine with that. It hasn’t happened so far, but it could. So you don’t have to feel like you’re locked into anything.

If the call does not have value for you, then we’ll drop it. But if you’re open to the idea that there are better ways of doing things that will allow you to generate more sales in less time, then schedule a call.

Jay: Yeah, set a goal to call right now and then follow up on your goal.

David: Execute, right?

Jay: That’s right. Thanks David.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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