Have you ever sat down to write out your business goals and wondered how or where to start? Or if you are like me, your attempt at goal setting just looks like a very long to-do list? It took me an overwhelmed moment to discover the difference between goals and a to-do list.
When I heard people talk about setting business goals I used to flash back to my traditional office job and being required to come up with goals that were rarely used for anything other to check a box. Those copy and paste yearly assignments – often not even assigned until well into the year – left me soured on the idea of business goals.
Now don’t get me wrong, I had personal goals for success in my job and most of the time that was based on my work ethic. I always strive to produce an excellent work product. And really, that should be enough, right?
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The Thing About Work Ethic
As a business owner, I now understand that goal setting is about more than a strong work ethic.
Producing an excellent work product and exceeding expectations define my work ethic. What they don’t define are the outcomes I seek to achieve.
Businesses goals need to be bigger. They need to include a vision and a plan. They need outcomes that can be measured. Don’t zone out on because I said measured. Sick with me a little longer.
When you make your daily or weekly to-do list it feels good to check done items off the list. And when you get to the end of the day or week you determine if you had a successful week by what percent of the items got checked off, right?
You set a goal to do the items on your checklist and then you measure your performance.
The Difference Between Goals and a To-do List
I’m a to-do list maker. My lists go on pages in a small spiral notebook so I don’t lose them. I can’t keep sticky notes in my office because I inevitably make a list on them and almost immediately lose said sticky note.
It took a moment of online shopping therapy for me to truly discover the difference between goals and a to-do list. After a couple weeks of dropping balls I bought the Living Well Planner and challenged myself to give it a real try. (More about how I came to that decision here).
At the very front of the planner it asks for three BIG goals for the year. For the first time since starting my own businesses I wrote down my big goals. It felt big and heavy made me oddly a little nervous.
I quickly turned the page and made my way to the monthly sections which promptly starts with asking for three BIG monthly goals. I felt anxious as I brainstorm the three goals I wanted to achieve that month.
Putting these goals on paper gave them life in a way no to-do list ever had. I took a deep breath, put my big girl pant on and started writing. The next two pages led me through the process of identifying what I really wanted to accomplish and what must happen to achieve it.
The Living Well Planner even directed me to identify the obstacles that might stand in my way and write down how to overcome them.
By the time I got to the third page, the must-do list and milestone setting section, I had been won over by goal setting.
The nervousness and anxiety I had felt a few pages sooner had become feelings of energy and excitement. My goals felt powerful. They no were longer just another to-do to check off the list.
After completing the goal setting exercises in the Living Well Planner, not only did I feel ready to accomplish more but more started to happen. New clients popped up and momentum in my business turned up a couple notches.
After that exercise, I discovered the difference between goals and a to-do list is that business goals are the map to achieve outcomes. A to-do list is the individual directions.
Goal setting is still a work in progress for me. My goal over the next 6 months is to create a routine to allow for quarterly goal setting and implementing in my business.
New routines take time to implement and effort to make stick. This is one worth the time and effort!
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