If there’s one common thing among current and potentially successful entrepreneurs, it’s a dedication to accomplishing written and well defined goals. In other words, the best way to identify a future success story is by asking, what exactly are you looking to accomplish? No wonder one of the most common interview questions is, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Research by Gail Matthews shows that individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals than those who didn’t take the time to write them down. The study further shows that people are more likely to achieve their goals if they make them public. The effect is even stronger if they are held accountable to the goals by a trusted friend.
It’s usually all in the head. We all have goals, dreams, idols, ideal job, ideal life, and aspirations. But how many of us write them down? Out of those who write them down, how many print them out? When we do, our subconscious ponders the object of our intention, even when our conscious mind is not actively processing the information, scientific studies show. Essentially, it is about helping the brain do its job. This is the time of the year you look back at last year’s goals, accomplishments and plan for the future. If you want action, you need an action plan and there is no science as to how you should set the goals as long as they are consistent with your life purpose and have passion for. This is extremely important because no energy in the world will carry you through the tough times and life is too short to build things you are not passionate about. Below, I share my 5-step process for writing, reviewing and updating goals around this time in December each year.
1- Evaluate The Past: I ask two questions: out of the list of objectives I set for this year, how many have I accomplished? And, am I still the person I was a year ago, that is, am I still as passionate about my vision as much as I was last year? I cross out achieved goals and reset my mind to a bigger and/or different vision.
2- The Big 5-Year Prize: what is it? What’s a dream come true 5 years from now? This is my vision. It is what sounds unbelievable at first but can be achievable with belief, perseverance and hard work. I write it down, bold it and make it bigger than the rest, usually font 25.
3- This Year Goals: “nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs,” Henry Ford. What does it take to win the 5-year prize? I write 3-5 challenging and attainable goals for the year. These are one of the stepping stones for the big prize. One of these goals, for instance is to make Upify one of the top 10 most used tools by entrepreneurs.
4- Print And Sign: Before asking people (step 5) to hold you accountable for achieving the goals, you must do it for yourself. Essentially you are writing a unilateral contract that only you can breach. Signing and framing this contract makes behavior towards goal accomplishment much more effective.
5- Show It To Others: Study shows that asking close friends and/or family to hold us accountable for achieving set goals increases effectiveness by 33%, according to research by Gail Matthews.
Only when I began following the above process that I understood the true meaning of setting one’s mind to something. That is literally what it means; writing goals down activates your subconscious mind to focus energy on things that matter the most to you, in this case, your objectives.
So far, I shared two simple and yet very powerful success variables that have shown to make a major impact on the future of entrepreneurs as founders and/or future leaders. First, startup founders mentored by successful entrepreneurs are 3 times more likely to reach an exit of at least $100 million or be in the top 10% in terms of the amount of equity raised, or in the top 10% in terms of number of employees, according to a study by techcrunch. Second, individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals. The conclusion is crystal clear: spending quality time finding good mentors and writing ambitious and realistic goals down should be every entrepreneur’s top priority.
What’s your goal setting process?