Practical Tips to Determine, Plan and Achieve Goals

The saying “Rome was not built in a day” wouldn’t have held true ever more than today.

In my professional life, I meet several young men and women who are in a hurry to ‘succeed’ in whatever they’re doing. Most of the times, success for them means quick money, fancy cars, luxury vacations, large homes and a luxe lifestyle. The keyword here is quick, which rarely happens considering the VUCA nature of today’s businesses, stiff competition and the uncertainty of jobs and careers. What results is heartburn, frustration and leads to giving up on life altogether. Few people realize that success – what we must define as achieving our long term goal in full, may not come quickly and without a roadmap.

A few days ago, I went about asking people what their long term goals were and I was in for some rude shock for very few people had a long term goal in mind. Most of them (my colleagues, friends, acquaintances, relatives, etc.) had only thought about short term goals. At best, they had a vague dream which they confused for long term goal because there was no roadmap to achieving it.

I have a friend, let’s call him Albert, who has put in almost 20 years in a tech company and has just started his website hosting and cloud space company while holding a day job. He wants his company to become the first choice for anyone who wants to purchase a domain name and hosting account. Though his company is doing decent business through primary referrals, he has no clear plan to achieve that long term goal. How then, will you do that, I asked, to which he replied he will figure it out along the way.

I would never leave my life goals to “Figuring it out” when we can have a plan. Success comes sequentially, not as a windfall. I’ve seen people hit the plateau in simple goals like losing weight. I have a friend aged 45 who weighs a good 120 kgs. Standing at a good over six feet, his weight was moderately distributed across his body and he looked imposing. However, he wanted to become lean and had a lofty goal of being at around 80 to 90 kgs. When I asked him how he intended to do that, he replied that he’s doing something whenever possible but not getting any results. I would have expected him to tell me about his dietary plan, weight loss buddies, exercise regimen, health check-up and more.

In both the above cases, I found that they missed the bus when it came to achieving the goal because they didn’t know where they were headed in the first place. The same holds true for goals like earning a million dollars before turning 30/40/50, saving enough to take that coveted world tour, building an old age home at your village or even reading 100 books per year. There’s a clear ‘what’ but nothing as far as the ‘how’.

I happened to read Gary Keller’s The one thing and really liked the ideas given therein. Gary even has his retreats where people can participate and learn goal setting the GPS way. GPS is

Goal– the one thing that becomes your primary goal in life or like some spiritual evangelists like to say ‘Definite Chief Aim’

Priority – those chosen few things you need to do to achieve them

Strategy– the path you need to tread to reach there

I absolutely loved the way Gary has broken down the one thing (the definite chief aim or the primary goal in life) into simple achievable levels.

Let us apply these principles to my friend Albert and his dream of building world’s largest web hosting company. I tried understanding what scale he used for that – largest number of websites hosted on his servers or wealth and looked like he was unclear about both.

  1. Someday (in the future) Albert wants to be the owner of the world’s largest web hosting company. That is a someday goal for him. He doesn’t know when that will come true. I realized that Albert even did not clearly know how big the biggest web hosting company is today. He needed to find out what the competition is like, what the customers prefer and why they flock to that company for web hosting. Considering Albert is already 45 today, I needed to know how he would plan to achieve that ‘someday’ goal. And I didn’t doubt him a bit he would.
  2. Albert must chalk out his Five- year goal, starting now. What will he do in the next five years that will take him on the way to achieving that ‘someday goal’. Albert was now on track. He told me he currently has around 10 clients per month on an average. Now match this with the global numbers. Today there are close to 547,000 to 576,000 websites created every day (many are lost, deleted or shut also). At those numbers, you can very well realize how much work he needs to do every year to gain the largest market share. Even if he decides to bag a tenth of that market, he will need to be hosting around 50,000 websites per day. That entails manpower, infrastructure, funds and abilities. He has some savings but his retirement date stares at him in the near future and he needs to provide for his kids’ tuition at Singapore’s University in a couple of years from now.
  3. Then comes the Yearly This is derived from the fiveyear goal. Holding his day job, Albert was unable to spare enough time to his company. So in spite of having great servers, giving complementary domain names, add on websites for every purchase, he is unable to go anywhere beyond the 10 websites per month. That’s just over 120 websites per year. He needs to ramp up his work and for that, it is essential to quit his day job if he can afford to do so at current income levels and future projections. He would also need to up his server capacities and get a good team for his company. How soon would he set up his infrastructure to up his hosting capacities, how strong will his team be to serve that kind of customer base and how will they tackle daily technical issues. He will also need to factor in annual outflows for kids, insurance, the home mortgage and household expenses.
  4. Weekly goals come out of yearly goals. A week is so much more in control than a year. It’s just 7 days after all. Albert needs to chalk out his day and minutes to fit in everything that is needed to inch towards his goal.
  5. Albert is a happy guy, with a loving family, a strong group of close friends. His days are jam packed and he is left with little time after work which he mostly spends till late in the night on his company’s work. His daily goal must now be able to accommodate that one thing that he will do no matter what. He must spend a large part of the day for his company. I didn’t quite see how he would do that without taking that leap of faith and quitting his job. His wife will need to understand how he will use his time and would have to accommodate his long days for some time at least.

The last I heard from my friend was a couple of days ago. He has since resigned from his day job after discussing with his wife who has promised to support him and the household with her job. He is using an efficient to-do app that allows him to accurately plan his day and accomplish more out of his day. He sat down with his finance consultants and figured out a way to manage money for the next five years.

It is important to have the clarity of your goals. This enables you to determine a definite plan to get there.

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