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Have You Ever Set a Goal But Didn't Come Close to Reaching It

Have you ever set a goal but didn’t come close to reaching it?

Many people will say that the key to goal setting is to make them specific, measurable, and realistic.  The problem with traditional goal setting is twofold.  First, external circumstances are almost always ignored or misunderstood when setting the goal.  Second, reaching a goal is almost one hundred percent the result of a system or habit.

When I was in high school I worked for a retail shoe store.  We received weekly goals from the corporate office and we were held to them.  We were praised if we reached the goal and criticized if we missed the goal.  So much focus was put on the goals and yet little was placed on the two most important factors.  We rarely acknowledged external situations, like customers coming into the store or a snowstorm keeping people away.  Second, we were never given any ways to improve our sales process systematically.  They assumed everything was effort and would simply reward us if we reached the goal and punish us if we missed it.

From that experience I learned that the system behind the goal is much more important than the goal itself.  

One goal that was given was for signing customers up for shopper cards.  We always seemed to struggle with this one.  I did not have any success early on and hit the same obstacles that everyone else hit.  I decided to change and do something a little different.  I started to change the process of selling the cards.  I would make little changes and then see if it had an impact on whether or not someone signed up.  I learned what words to emphasize and even started taking the application out and handing them a pen as I explained the program.  

What I noticed is that it became much easier to sell the shopper cards.  I still received the occasional “no” but was receiving many more “yes” responses than ever before.  I worked to turn my new understanding of the sales process into a habit.  I did the same thing every time.  Suddenly I was hitting the goal every week and listed as a “top performer” for the shopper cards.  

Then I started to adjust the way I sold everything.  I would evaluate each process to determine what gave me the best chance at success and then turn it into a habit.  Others started to notice as I received praise, but many assumed it was an extreme increase in effort to reach the goals.  It wasn’t, I didn’t work any harder.  I didn’t even work smarter.  I simply created a system and followed it until it was a habit.  

The idea of running a company with processes and procedures (systems) is nothing new.  Books upon books have been written which explain this in detail.  Businesses have known this for years and use this as the foundation for franchising, where they are selling a business system.  

I strengthened my knowledge of systems and how to use them to reach goals in business through many experiences including owning my own business, helping a family member buy and run a franchise business and working at a small business support organization.  Eventually I found a very interesting thing.  

The same principles that go into a good system for a business are required if we want to reach personal goals.  I relied on systems to pay off over $10,000 in debt in less than a year, lose 30 lbs, earn an MBA, quit smoking and write 2 books.  Many people mistake my accomplishments as extreme effort and hard work.  While effort and hard work was a small part of it, the real reason I was able to see success in these areas was because I used the principles of systems and habit-forming to improve until I saw results.  

The great thing about systems and habits is that everyone uses them.  They are either a deliberate system that we create to take us where we want to go or they are created from a routine of taking the path of least resistance.  You can decide.  This is incredibly uplifting and really gives hope to all those that struggle to reach their goals.  This gives us control in our lives.  It gives us the control to improve where we want to improve, accomplish what we want to accomplish, and, most importantly, become who we want to become.