Monday, January 3, 2011

Mackay: Set realistic benchmarks for a big 2011

So this is the year you're going to break away from the pack and set reasonable, achievable goals. And then you're going to get through your whole list so you can reach even higher in 2012.

Call them New Year's resolutions, personal goals or just your to-do list. Or perhaps your goals are company-related. Do you have enough incentive to keep moving past mid-January?

Before you can actually set goals, consider these fundamentals:

- Know what you really want. A goal should be a response to a stated need. Do you need to improve your order processing to serve your customers? Drop a few pounds for your health? Goals need to be specific. "Being a better company" isn't enough. Perhaps you've heard the wisdom of Yogi Berra, who said, "If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up someplace else."

- Know your motivation. How will achieving this goal change your business, life or attitude? If you want to make more money, will that improve your situation? Or would some other reward be more fitting? Remember, health, wealth and happiness are not goals themselves, but byproducts of goals achieved.

- Zero in. Focus on one or two areas where you can make real improvements, rather than shooting for a complete makeover. A goal that is too overwhelming will soon become a good intention, and we know where those usually wind up.

- Take risks. As I like to say, you'll never stub your toe if you walk backward. But you won't move ahead either. Once you figure out where you want to be, find a path that is practical, manageable and bold enough to make a change.

- Involve those around you. Look for support wherever you can find it.

Setting goals is all about taking charge of a situation. A company president with a doctorate in psychology tried an experiment in his factory to determine the best way to help employees reach their optimum performance as quickly as possible. He divided his newly hired unskilled workers into two groups to test his theory.

He set a difficult goal for the first group, to reach their production quota within 12 weeks. But after 14 weeks, they had only achieved 66 percent of standard performance, well below their goal.

The second group was given weekly goals instead, with the same expectation after 12 weeks. Each week, as proficiency improved, the goal was set higher. At the end of 14 weeks, the second group had achieved and exceeded the original goal of becoming skilled operators. Reasonable, measurable goals were the difference.

Occasionally, your goals will take you into uncharted territory. Be fearless! Consider the story of Henry Morton Stanley, the 19th-century British explorer. After fighting his way through a terrifying jungle, he was asked if he had been frightened. He answered, "I didn't think about it that way. I did not raise my head to see the whole. I saw only this poisonous snake in front of me that I had to kill to take the next step.

"Only after I had gotten through did I look back and see what I had been through. Had I taken a look at the whole thing, I would have been so scared that I would never have attempted this."

Mackay's Moral: Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.

by Harvey Mackay January 3, 2011





Mackay: Set realistic benchmarks for a big 2011

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