We see mass evidence of poor goal setting once a year without fail. New Years comes around and people resolve to change their lives in one fashion or another. Why is it that statistically only about 10% of resolutions are ever actually completed? Are the goals impossible? Probably not, most of us don't set goals we know we can't achieve. It's near impossible for me to learn how to shut my eyes and teleport to the Amalfi Coast, so I wouldn't set my sights on that accomplishment. So if I've set a target that is actually attainable, what's the problem?
At it's heart the issue comes down to how we set our goals out. Are we being specific with them or arbitrary? Are we planning them in stages or simply thinking of the end result and nothing more?
The common advice, when it comes to things like the yearly resolutions, is to set your sights lower and go for more attainable things. The principle here is that shooting for the moon can often be so intimidating that we never actually launch. So why not aim lower right? Just set smaller goals and forget the big ones.
Wrong. That's never going to get you the things you dream of.
My encouragement to you is to continue setting those lofty goals, but with one major change. We aren't going to tackle them without a plan. The real meat of the issue is that most people don't think much beyond what it is they want in the end. With no process set up for getting there, how can the journey be anything less than daunting? There's a reason all Lego kits come with detailed instructions. Can you imagine how long it would take to build one of those 3,000 piece monsters without a guide? If you need a guide to put a toy together don't you think you should have a guide set out to make your first million?
What I'm getting at here is that we don't need to ignore the common advice, we just need to correct it. It isn't that we should set smaller goals and forget the big ones. We just need to break our big goals down into smaller pieces! What is the big career goal you have? Maybe you want to make a certain amount a year. Maybe you want to shoot for a specific brand.
What's the big goal?
Take a second and write it down. Whatever your gut response to that question is.
I'm serious, do it. Be specific.
With that done, I'll set up a hypothetical situation and you can apply what we talk about to your specific goal. Let's say you're a wedding photographer making on average $2,500 from each wedding not counting any related sales. If you're thinking that's low, you may be right, not the point. Last year our hypothetical wedding shooter booked 20 weddings and thus made $50,000 pre tax. This year their goal is to triple that dollar figure. It's a solid target and there are a various ways to get there. First, we book more weddings. Duh. Second, maybe we raise the price to an even $3,000. Also a no brainer, but for the sake of this let's say the market can't bear the increased cost.
With that very basic setup we know that we need to keep rates the same, which means we have to find and book more clients. If you're starting to get overwhelmed at what that would look like, that's a good response and exactly why so many failures to launch happen. Let's make up some more numbers to expand on this. Our hypothetical photographer met with an average of 10 prospects a month and closed about 17%, that's 20 clients booked out of 120 pitched. If we keep the closure rate the same that means we have to meet with 360 prospects over the course of the year, or 30 per month in order to triple our bookings.
If we step back a second we can see our first smaller goal. Meet with 30 prospective clients a month instead of 10.
What else could we do?
Well, we could try to improve our closure rate. Maybe that means taking a sales seminar. Maybe just reading some sales books. Whatever way we choose to go about it, improving our sales abilities should probably be another target within the whole. We are obviously going to have to find a way to get more people to know about us too, so we should probably work on our marketing presence. Do you see where I'm going with this?
We need to break the whole down into everything that needs to take place within it. Once we've laid out the needs, then we can make a precise plan to make it happen. If our hypothetical photographer wants to triple their business within a year they need to be able to break it down into less daunting steps. The other important piece is that we have to be able to measure progress. If their goal was simply "make more money" then they could find a dollar on the sidewalk and be done. So rather than saying we need to book more clients, we say that we are going to close 20% instead of 17%. Now we can look at our month and do the math. We met with 10 prospects and 2 booked, that's a goal met. We can't just say we are going to work harder, we have to spell out what we need to work harder on, and then track the progress.
Using the model of achieving this hypothetical goal in one year, this means that we are going to give ourselves deadlines. The last one being "shoot 60 weddings this year," on December 31st. Maybe the first smaller goal happens on January 15th and it's something like "finish and apply two books on sales strategies." January 20th could be "start a referral program." See what I'm saying? We break the whole down into it's most basic parts and then lay those out over our timeline. This gives us smaller targets that aren't overwhelming, but are still leading us towards the big dream.
Make yourself take some time and apply this to what you want to accomplish. The kicker is that you probably already know what you need to do and how to make it happen, you just need to build the plan and deadlines. If you're stuck on how to do something like get more clients then you automatically have a new step in your plan. Make a new deadline for "learn client aquisition strategies." The same idea applies to any need that you hadn't thought of before. Like everything else we've discussed in this series, this concept is something perpetual. We plan it out as best we can and revise as we gain new information.