In my line of work, I meet a lot of people that tell me they have a goal and a 3 or 5-year plan to achieve it. This makes a lot of sense, right? For most of us, we’ve been taught we need to set goals and have a plan. If we can’t create a plan, we can achieve the goal. Commonly, when I start to talk about goal setting and goal achieving, these planners tune me out because they don’t think they need my help. This week, I am going to talk about the difference between having a plan and having a goal. We’ll look at how your plan helps you to achieve your goal. Be sure to check out the Challenge below that can change your life and your business for the better! Thank you for reading!
I Have a Plan
When was the last time you were inspired by a plan? I’ve never gotten out of bed in the morning excited that I have a 3-year plan. That just doesn’t sound exciting. The excitement should come from achieving your goal at the end of that plan. If you say that your plan is to get a promotion, start a business, or build your dream home, you may not be fully aware of the dynamic between your goals and your plans. When I ask you if you have a goal and you tell me you have a plan, it isn’t clear to me that you actually have a goal. A plan is a means to achieve a goal. Let’s clarify…
Start with a Goal
I start all of my professional relationships talking about goals. I ask them “What is it that inspires you to go to work every day”? Surprisingly, most people don’t have an answer. Let’s review what a goal is. A goal is something that will cause you to grow. Achieving a goal will help you to have or do something you’ve never had or done before. A goal should inspire you. A goal is not supposed to be something you’ve already achieved. A goal is beyond something that you already think you can do. When setting an inspiring goal, you’ll know it because you’ll be a little scared and you won’t know how you’ll get there!
In the business world, team leaders will struggle coming up with these types of goals. Imagine telling your boss you have a goal that is so far beyond what you’ve ever accomplished it almost sounds unrealistic. Now imagine you tell your boss that you have no idea how you’re going to do it! Your boss is going to think you’re crazy, right? This is where leadership and courage are important. All great ideas were a little crazy at one point. Human flight, lightbulbs, a computer on every desk, cars. These were all crazy ideas at one point, yet today we all take them for granted. People took risks, and showed bravery in pursuit of those goals.
Now Make A Plan
I’m not naïve enough to think that having an inspiration is all you need to be successful. That isn’t true, you do need to come up with a plan. You need to draw some sort of roadmap to get where you want to go. Lewis and Clark undoubtedly had a plan when they were exploring the West. They had no idea what was going to happen between here and there, but they surely had some sort of plan. They had to have planned for many anticipated obstacles… how they would find food, different weather conditions, and a host of other obstacles. So, we can agree that you need to have a plan.
Start by making a plan based on the best information available at the time. At the risk of bruising a few egos here, nobody is perfect. So, when you develop this beautiful plan to get to where you want to go, it won’t be perfect. You will run into unforeseeable challenges. You will find that you’ve tried something that doesn’t work. You might even end up having to take a step back in order to move forward.
Making Necessary Course Corrections
A plan is only good until you start to execute it. The minute you face a challenge, or find a dead end, the plan needs modified. Your plan should be fluid, and flexible. Leaders need to see when a plan isn’t working and have the courage to make a course correction. I say courage, because admitting to a course correction means admitting a mistake. If you see a path that isn’t working, or a challenge in your way you have to find a way through or around that challenge. The important part here is to keep your eye on the goal. The goal should never change, but the plan most certainly will.
In some instances, I’ve observed where a shortcut to the goal becomes obvious. The following case study will be in illustration of this. Here again, you’ll have to deviate from the plan. If executing the plan is the goal, then you won’t have the vision to see the shortcut and you’ll continue to execute the plan, missing opportunity after opportunity. When you keep the goal in mind, and the plan is a tool used to get there, you can capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves.
Case Study – Defining Your Goal and Working Your Plan
When I started working with a client of mine, Matt, he had thought he was a goal achiever. He was able to articulate a clear and detailed 5 to 10-year plan. Matt had identified what types of assignments he would have to accomplish, and how long he’d have to stay at each rung of the success ladder. Matt obviously had a goal and a plan.
I challenged Matt by asking: what is it you want to do? Not the job title, but what do you want to do? When he thought about that he articulated something different. I challenged Matt to go after what he wanted and not just execute this plan. Fortunately, Matt was coachable and agreed to go after the end goal, and not focus on the path to get there.
Matt shifted his focus from his plan to his goal, and things started to change for him. Matt was a sharp guy and good at his job, but now he realized he wanted to be more than he was. Within weeks of him changing his focus he was put in for promotion for a leadership position (way ahead of his previous eligibility projections). Matt did not get promoted to the next level… He was able to get promoted up two levels!
That in itself is a good story, but it doesn’t end there. The promotions were nice, but they weren’t the goal. Matt wanted to have influence on his organization. Over the next few months Matt worked with his new team to develop their goals, and worked with them to see what they could accomplish as a team. The team decided they wanted to be the premier team for the organization, and have top executives seek them out for input.
When the team came up with the goal, they had the usual responses. They pointed out all the reasons they couldn’t do that. Having been through this Matt knew that if just kept them focused on the goal, and start executing a plan, opportunities would present themselves. In a matter of a few short months, his team was able to accomplish their goal of becoming the premier team for the organization, and top executives seek them out for input!
Knowing the difference between a goal and a plan is important. Which one are you working towards? Will your results be the same this year as they were last year? Take some time to evaluate your goals and your plans. Are they creating growth for you and your teams? Is your team inspired, or just working?
Are you working toward an inspiring goal, or just executing a plan?
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Shaffer Ingenuity can help you find what really drives you and provide you the tools to achieve those goals!
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I am excited to announce that have finalized our next live event “Mastering the Mental Game!” This is going to be entertaining and life changing! You won’t want to miss it. Watch your inbox or go to our website to find out how to register. Space is limited!
• When: Saturday November 11th
• From 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
• Open discussion to follow
• Where: Charles I. Ecker Business Training Center
6751 Columbia Gateway Dr. Columbia, MD 21046
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Do you have a corporate training event, know of any group that may benefit from learning about the true secret to goal setting and achieving? Please contact me about talking to your group or corporate event!
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Quote of the Week
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
I am always looking for opportunities to share some inspiration with others. If your company or club is looking for a guest speaker for a meeting, workshop or other event, I welcome the referral.
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