The most successful entrepreneurs do more than set goals. They keep those goals front and center--all the time.
I'm goal oriented. Professionally I am happiest when I have a number to hit, a timeline to make, or a task to complete. Personally, I am at my best when I have a big trip or event in the not too distant future that I am working toward.
That's true of a lot of the successful entrepreneurs I know. They're motivated by the prospect of hitting a goal, driving past it and looking for their next target. That means not just setting goals, but making sure they're constantly working to execute against them. Here are five ways to do that:
I was traveling with Heath Hyneman and Kevin Wallace, the CMO and CTO of National Builder Supply, to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, and I noticed something very odd about both of their laptops. On the lip where the laptops open, there was a list of numbers created by a label maker. Turns out the numbers have a very significant meaning to them for their company--and they are reminded of these goals every time they open their laptop.
I have seen similar reminders of goals on the backgrounds of other entrepreneurs' iPhones (think of the number of times you would see that every day) and even on the wallpaper of their laptop or tablet.
Author of the book How Did You Get That Job? and TV writer Susan Dansby writes her goals on a sheet of paper and hangs them in her office. Simple and effective. She told me that she had written the goal "I will be nominated for an Emmy"--which she was, but she didn't win. She promptly tore that sheet off the wall and wrote "I will win an Emmy"--which she did. Being specific is important for measuring success and providing motivation.
Set a Timeline
My experience running projects and motivating teams has taught me that a project or initiative will always fill all of the available time allotted to it. It's only when a specific, unmovable date or time is set that everything seems to miraculously come together.
Setting a solid date for your goal with some associated guideposts helps you focus on what you need to do today to make that goal a reality tomorrow. A hard date also provides you with a concrete time to reevaluate and refocus if you aren't making the progress you had hoped.
Build in Accountability
I just completed the manuscript for my first book. I say it is my first book because I have three more that I plan to write. The reason I got my first book done? I was accountable to a publisher to have it submitted by a certain date for a specific release date. This accountability was strong motivation for me to block out the time to get it done. I had considered self-publishing the book several times, but having someone to answer to gave me the push to finish.
Provide a Reward
Even if you think hitting a goal will be enough of a reward, tie something to the accomplishment that helps you remember and celebrate. It can be something as simple as a nice meal, a new pair of shoes, or that new iPad you've been coveting. Sometimes our goals are big and lofty and the accomplishment of the goal isn't completely tangible. Tying the goal to a simple tangible reward is a great boost for your own psyche and is especially important to remember if you rely on others to help you get to that goal.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. Eric advises clients on the “whys” of business – why customers buy, why teams work and the all-important “entrepreneurial why”. He is the author of Laddering and his weekly radio show, The 'Better You' Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. Learn more about Eric at www.ladderingworks.com or e-mail email@example.com. @eholtzclaw