If you’re not looking ahead, you’re falling behind. At all times, you must be looking toward the long-term future of your business or charity. This requires intense focus, hard work, and an ability to multitask. You must set demanding goals and simultaneously pay attention to the big picture and small details. Above all else, you must have full confidence in yourself. There is no room for self-doubt in business.
Setting the Right Goals
While goals about next month’s revenue or this year’s product sales are important, they are not enough. You must also set goals for the years ahead. A successful business plans three or more years ahead and sets appropriate targets to meet along the way. If you are not constantly working for a goal beyond the current fiscal year, you may lose sight of your vision. Meanwhile, your competitors who do focus on the future will rush past you and claim more market space.
Your goals should challenge you. If they seem easy to achieve, you will not reach your potential. The best goals will seem a little beyond your ability—the route to the finish line will not seem totally clear. James Collins and Jerry Porras defined such goals as “BHAGs” in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. BHAGs are “big, hairy, audacious goals.” BHAGs encourage creative thinking and problem solving that will open doors to new possibilities. You can only become aware of opportunities if you are looking for them. Along the way, set achievable targets that will serve as mileposts on the way to your BHAG.
Splitting Your Attention with Focus
There are only so many hours in the day. Most people work as many of those hours as they can. The only way to get ahead is to be more efficient during those hours by using Best Practices. To do so, you must focus on many tasks and projects at once. You also must take care when splitting your attention to look at details. By nature, multitasking leads to a quality loss unless you take care to avoid it. Focusing on details enables you to maintain top quality on multiple projects.
When examining the details of many projects at once, it can be easy to forget the big picture. You must always keep your ultimate vision in mind as you look at each individual project. One way to accomplish this is to limit your projects to only those that accomplish your BHAGs best. Being the best in your market space is what makes you successful, and that requires a big-picture view to achieve.
Maintaining Your Confidence
Confidence comes with direction. If you have set a BHAG and appropriate milestones along the way, you set the stage for confidence. Confidence also comes from knowing your talents and knowing the industry. Staying up to date by reading articles and going to conferences is a critical part of maintaining your confidence and keeping your skills sharp.
However, you will make mistakes. It is crucial that you do not let mistakes shake your confidence. When you feel confident, you can make decisions faster and respond faster to the demands of our rapidly changing economy. If you feel self-doubt, your decisions will always be made after hesitation, and your more confident competitors will beat you to the finish.
With a solid plan, challenging goals, and confidence, you are on the path to success. When you split your attention between the details of each task and the overall vision, you ensure that you stay on that path. The only ingredient remaining is motivation, and that comes with passion, which we talked about earlier. When motivated, you will reach your goal. To stay motivated, you must find something that drives you. For some, it is charity. For others, it is providing for a family. The best motivator comes from deciding what you most want out of life and making it what you work for.
Please share your thoughts on what your vision is. What goals do you set, and what motivates you to get there?