Daily Goals: The Stepping Stones to Your Future

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the importance of identifying a clear-cut daily production goal in order to help you reach your mid-range and long-range goals. By repeatedly generating a minimum level of performance each day, you will have a reference point that will keep you motivated long enough to reach your long-range goals. One of the reasons it is so important to have attainable targets at this stage is because, in the absence of an external focus, most people are not able to stay motivated for more than 48 hours or so. How many times have you heard an excellent motivational speech at a conference, found yourself excited and motivated about the possibilities of reaching an objective, and within two or three days, that feeling dissipates and you drift back to your previous level of performance?

One might think that simply being aware of all the grand rewards and the overall sense of satisfaction that comes when a goal is achieved through consistent hard work, dedication and passion would be enough to keep a person focused on their objectives. However, that is rarely the case. Most of us can only stay on course for a relatively short period of time. We need to be frequently re-focused because motivation has a nasty habit of quickly disappearing. For the majority of the population, if they cannot see it, feel it or hear it, it doesn’t exist. The daily target is what gives your dreams form and substance as well as acting as a measuring stick along the way.

Many of the consistent high achievers eventually figure this out. They realize that in order to stay motivated over a long period of time, they have to get themselves into some kind of a regimen where they are re-motivating themselves regularly within that 48-hour time span. I like to relate this to exercise. If you were to exercise for 20 minutes this afternoon and did nothing else in terms of physical fitness for the rest of the year, should you expect to gain any long-term physical benefits from that single session? Probably not. But, if you were to spend 20 minutes a day exercising every day for the next six months, would you then see any positive benefits? You would begin seeing a variety of physical benefits and the longer you stuck to your workout, you would accrue more benefits over time. You would be looking better and probably feeling great, as well. But what would happen to all of those accrued benefits if six months later you got up one morning and just stopped exercising? How long would it take for all of those wonderful health benefits to disappear? Chances are, in very short order, you would go right back to the physical state you were in before you started your fitness program.

Daily goal setting is very similar in that respect. Reaching your daily goal only occasionally and inconsistently will produce minimum benefits, if any at all. But, if you could develop the habit of hitting a daily performance target each and every business day, within a short period of time you would start seeing your productivity steadily rise. The longer you continue to hit that daily goal, the more your productivity would increase. It becomes a positive feedback loop.

Many individuals are already fully aware of the daily activities that will guarantee their success. They know what they should be doing if they are serious about their future and also know that they are perfectly capable of achieving it every day. Yet, even though they know what they should be doing to get to where they claim they want to be, they still regularly fail to perform. There are an infinite number of possible reasons for this self-sabotage. I’ve worked with folks who had a fear of failure, fear of success, poor self-image and some who blame other people for their lack of success…the list of excuses goes on and on. Daily distractions as well as a lack of discipline may also produce erratic performance, resulting in the daily goal being achieved only a small fraction of the time. At that point, you are likely to hear them inventing rationalizations and excuses such as such as “we are in a tough economy,” or “I’ve had some bad breaks,” or even “It’s the politicians’ fault in Washington”. Rarely do they identify the real problem, which is that they did not do what they said they were going to do.

Most of the people whom I’ve encountered are sincere in their desire to move forward and prosper in their business lives. They work hard, they’re dedicated and they are willing to spend time and effort to acquire the skills they need build their future. They never attended a “Goal-Setting 101” course in school, simply because schools don’t offer them. Consequently, they might be working hard, but not working smart. Some of them are spinning their wheels: Producing activity, but essentially getting nowhere. These individuals would benefit tremendously from learning hands-on techniques that show them a step-by-step process for creating the good business habits that are necessary for their long-term success. Once these individuals understand how their mind works and are shown a few simple guidelines to implement, they often move forward rapidly.