Early in the process of engaging with new clients, I help them understand a simple reality that all organizations must accept. It’s this: if we are to achieve our vision, we must become exceptional at managing today’s business while simultaneously building tomorrows. In this series of posts, I’m going to delve into what both of those mean and how they come to work together.

Building Tomorrow’s Business

I’ll start with some simple questions.

  1. How successful were you in achieving the goals you set at the beginning of last year?
  2. For the goals you did accomplish – did they move the needle?
  3. Is your business tangibly closer to the future you envision?

Tips for Goal Setting Success

Assuming you answered those questions and feel there’s room for improvement, here’s a short list of tips that will help you approach the upcoming year in a productive manner.

1. Create and communicate your big, long-term business goal.

A good long-term goal should be at least 5 years out and when properly articulated, can be stated in a simple sentence of ideally 7 words or less. Your timeframe can be whatever makes sense for you long-term, anything from 5- 30 years is good. Although realistic and achievable, it should scare you a little. It should put you on the hook for thinking big without having any real certainty yet of how you’re going to get there.

2. Paint a picture of what your business will look like 3 years from now.

Share this with everyone in the company. Start with your best prediction on where you’ll be financially. Make a short list of bullet points that highlight things you’ll have done and become by then. For example, if you plan on expanding into new regions, describe how many. If you’re going to develop and launch a new product, what will it be and how many?

3. Commit to 3-7 goals for this year.

Using your 3-year picture as a guide, ask yourself (and your team preferably) what handful of 12-month goals can we accomplish this year to bring that picture closer? By handful, I mean a short list of the 3-7 most important things. Less is more here. When everything is important, nothing is important.

4. Create 90-day priorities.

Using your list of 3-7 12 month goals, decide what success would look like 90 days out for each one. Don’t get overwhelmed by the year-end outcome, just decide where you need to be 90 days from now.

5. Obsess over those 90-day priorities.

Once your 90-day priorities are set, put your bigger goals aside and focus on what has to happen in this shorter window of time. 90 days from now get your team together, be honest about how you did, and decide what effort is needed over the next 90 days to continue making progress.

Follow this simple process and challenge yourself to focus on the handful of really important things. When the year is over, those goals should be done and you’ll be 1 year closer to achieving your big, long-term vision.