in Business, Leadership

Focus on Behaviors, Not Goals, in the New Year


Put down your New Year goal sheet for a minute.

A client of mine, GradFly CEO Oscar Pedroso, shot me an interesting article yesterday about setting goals.

Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

If you have time, take 10 minutes read it in its entirety. It’s well worth it.

Goals are good, but is there something better?

You know the traditional business speak about goals and goal setting. That goals are the basis of any plan and that without a goal, you have nothing that you are striving for.

Is that always true?
The general concept behind the author’s article is that goal setting is good, but it’s not the end all be all. That goals, while good, can often cause issues, brought on by short term thinking or distress due to lack of achievement.

As a goal oriented person myself, I couldn’t agree more. With a new year upon us, what better time than to share some more thoughts on goals and how you can more easily deal with them.

Goals are necessary, but action is most important

Goals are a necessary evil, a bar that needs to be set, in order to gauge progress or achievement. Whether you’re a competitive athlete, executive or sales professional goals are what judge the success of your recent performance.

Being successful, reaching your goals, doesn’t always mean you are making progress or getting better though. There’s lots of examples of people winning or achieving their goal in foul and unscrupulous ways.

As well, goals in it of themselves does not predict achievement. In other words, looking at the goals you’ve set won’t achieve them.

That requires action.

Still, for someone like me, perhaps even you, goals propel me forward. More often than not, we’re the ones setting our goals or have a hand in the process, so goals can serve as internal motivation.

Goals aren’t always good

Goals do have a downside. Goals can lead to tunnel vision, irrational sacrifices, overly aggressive behaviors or be emotionally gut wrenching if you get too attached to them.

At least that’s how goals sometimes work for me.

I’m sure some of you can relate, either personally or to a colleague with the same condition. Goals can be used for good, but they’ve been known to also turn people and companies evil.

Focus instead on behaviors and systems

As someone who is trying to recover from being “overly goal oriented” one of the things that I have tried to do is focus more on behaviors which consistently cause positive outcomes.

Your daily behaviors dictate your results far greater than the goals you set. Over time, your behaviors become habits.

Your habits then become your system for success. So your systems should ensure good organizational behaviors occur.

For example, as I am build my own company, I look back on the behaviors and actions that I have, or have not, taken in the past to achieve similar results. I’ve taken a look at the many processes and have found that there was a set of actions, behaviors, habits which combine into a system that worked well for this stage of the business.

That’s why this year I have decided that my goals are behaviors. to focus on doing the following three things every day:

  1. Workout for at least one hour
  2. Write 1,000 words
  3. Help 1 new person

How is this more effective than concentrating on specific goals for the business? Say, $xxx,xxx in recurring monthly revenue or acquiring xx new customers?

Because if I focus all of my effort, thought and executional might into these three areas, the revenue and new customers will come.

Focusing on the right things gets the right results

In focusing on these three things, I know I will achieve success:

  1. Workout – If I do this I will be in good health and have the mental, physical stamina to generate the energy necessary to handle a full client load without burning out or becoming sick. It’s also a great way to kick off the day!
  2. Write – If I do this daily, I will have loads of great content to reach more prospective clients, be able to better showcase my expertise, create saleable products, create trainings and even enhance current engagements. All of which will lead to more revenues and clients.
  3. Helping people – If I am actively looking to help people, new people, that means I am keeping my eyes open to opportunities where I can add value. Finding more opportunities where I can provide value and opening doors for others (pun intended) will consistently put me in a position to be successful.

Rather than set my sight on pure numbers, simply for numbers sake, I’m setting myself up to develop engrained behaviors and a way of being that will increase my chance of being successful.

You can’t just throw away goals, you need to have them, but instead of focusing all your efforts on them this year, spend that time on your behaviors, which lead to the habits that predict your success. Doesn’t this sound like a more palpable way to achieve the things you want this year for your business?

How could you apply this to your business or life?

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