“He who bears in his heart a cathedral to be built is already victorious. He who seeks to become sexton of a finished cathedral is already defeated.” – Saint-Exupéry (Flight to Arras, 1942)
Some goals — business and financial mostly — can be categorized in numeric terms.
* “Bring sales up to $80 million.”
* “Get a $15,000 raise.”
* “Reduce refunds by 5%.”
What I like about numeric objectives is that they are very precise and therefore easy to work with. If I want to convince 1,000 ETR readers to take my VIP service this year, I’m going to shoot for about 80 such conversions per month. Eighty sales a month means 20 per week, or four per day.
That’s good. But there are two things I don’t like about numeric goals.
First, it is too easy to attach yourself emotionally to the exact number: “Gee, I only got sales up to $79 million this year. I’m a failure!” (See Message #673.)
The second problem with numeric goals is that they are actually deceptive. You say you want to increase your net income by $40,000, but what you really want is the financial capacity to buy a larger house and the liberty to go out to a nice restaurant once a week without feeling as if you are being a spendthrift.
A good way to take advantage of the precision of numbers and obviate their problems is to add a tangible dimension to the number. When it comes time to set your goal, don’t stop with the number only. Ask yourself, “What will this goal look like if and when I accomplish it? What will it feel like?”
By creating a mental image of how your life (or your business or the world) will change by achieving your numeric goal, you accomplish two things:
1. You make the goal more attractive by planting it deeper in your heart and mind. This will make you want it more — which will make the work required to achieve it that much easier to do.
2. You give yourself an opportunity to be happy with the result even if you don’t hit the number exactly. I can’t tell you that I’ve done this yet, so I can’t assure you that it works. But the idea makes sense, and I know the power of visualization from practicing Jiu Jitsu and learning to dance. I’m going to try it. I recommend you do the same.
Here are some other questions you should ask yourself whenever setting business and financial goals:
* If this is successful, what ancillary problems will it cause?
* What new opportunities will this effort create?
* What is my deadline? Is it realistic?
* If it doesn’t work, what is the worst thing that could happen?