We all have goals. Be they personal ambitions to work up the career ladder, create a start-up or move to a smallholding on the Isle of Mull or professional goals to improve your department, achieve market dominance or become more productive, goals are the driving force of what we do. Everyone is working towards something.

But how can you ensure your goal turns into a reality? How can we be confident that we will achieve exactly what we have set out to achieve? We believe it boils down to five simple steps.

Be more explicit in your goals

Before you make a start on working towards your goals, it’s important to know exactly what it is you want to achieve. It seems simple, but many people fall down at this step because they don’t make their objectives explicit enough.

If you have a vague goal, it’s harder to know when you have achieved it and if you’re working as part of a team it can create confusion with everyone taking away their own interpretation.

Swap ambiguous objectives for something more concrete. Replace a goal of replying to emails more quickly, with the target of replying to those that necessitate a response within an hour. Aim to hit customer satisfaction levels of 95%, rather than a vague aim to make customers happier.

Being explicit sets clear goalposts that everyone involved can work towards and gives you a distinct target for success.

Be open about the level of change necessary

One challenge of these more explicit goals, is that you need to be very clear on where you are right now. After all, how can you increase output by 10% if you’re not even sure what the current total output is?

Identifying your baseline ensures you go in with your eyes open about how much work needs to be done. If your explicit goal is 95% customer satisfaction, you need to know if customers are currently only 50% satisfied, or 80%, as that will provide you with a clear indication of how long it’s going to take to achieve your goal and give a sense of the scale of your undertaking.

Being open and honest about your starting point is the first step to achieving success.

Figure out what’s holding you back

What’s preventing you from already achieving your target? You need to carefully consider the true root cause, as often the obvious sources are actually symptoms of a wider problem. If your customer satisfaction rates are 50%, it may be because they’re not getting their products delivered in time but that isn’t the root cause. The problem you need to overcome is what is causing the delay in delivering products. Is there a manufacturing bottleneck? If so, what’s causing that?

If you’re unable to respond to all emails in a timely manner, why is that? If the answer is because you get too many emails, why is that the case? Often, you need to ask why five times before you find the true cause, and it’s never the obvious answer.

If you skip this step, you might find temporary improvement, but without eradicating the true cause the problem will keep coming back – wasting more time in the long run.


Spit ball solutions

Ask everyone possible for ideas to fix the problem. The more ideas, the more likely you are to strike gold, and they can come from the most unlikely places. Often a silly idea can spark a train of thought that leads to your perfect solution.

Remember – working to achieve your goals does not happen in a vacuum, so ask the people affected. Want to improve customer satisfaction? Ask your customers what you could do better. But also ask those who are dealing first-hand with complaints, the staff that are responsible for delivery and those involved in production. They’ll all have potentially great ideas.

Want to respond to emails more efficiently? Ask others in your workplace what they do. The more potential solutions you find, the easier it will be to find the right one.

Never look back

We all know how easy it is to fall back into bad habits, so this last step is really important. Make it impossible to return to the old way of doing things.

Once you’ve fixed the root cause of low customer satisfaction, put a process in place to prevent it returning. Put red flags in place that will alert you if your measures are no longer working before it starts to affect customer satisfaction. This early warning system prevents you from falling back into a rut and keeps your customers happy.

Achieving your goals is always worth aiming for, but having a structured approach to reaching your targets ensures you’ll have a greater chance of success. These five steps will help you achieve your personal and professional goals, regardless of size, and we’ve seen them work time and time again.

But we’ve all got our own secrets to success, so what do you do to ensure you reach your goals?


Like this post? Are you a Black Belt? The you’ll love the efficiency tips we’ve put together especially for you!