Setting goals can be an intimidating process. Most people are used to the concept of making resolutions at the beginning of each year, but setting goals is something that happens, for most people, without a formal process. A lot of goals are set on the spur of the moment when something has to be done and no one is doing it. I am not a big fan of resolutions because, in most cases, resolutions are focused on setting aside bad behavior. Goals are focused on achieving progressive levels of success. Let me give you an example. If I make a resolution to lose weight, I have essentially resolved to change the behaviors that caused my weight gain. So, if I have been slothful, I need to change that negative behavior and try to replace it with a positive behavior. The problems with resolutions are, resolutions cause you to focus on the incorrect action, the action of exchanging behaviors. They cause you to focus on what you will be giving up instead of what you will be achieving. If you focus on the weight loss or changing an entrenched behavior, you will almost ensure failure. This is why. If you focus on losing weight and you make a behavioral change, there are two forces working against you. The first one is human nature. You, like so many others, have done what you have done because you have become comfortable in doing it. When you make a behavioral change, you become uncomfortable. When you become uncomfortable, you tend to drift back to the behavior that makes you feel comfortable; thus, failure. The second force working against you is what I call the pleasure/pain quotient. The pleasure/pain quotient is the ratio of pleasure achieved in relationship to the amount of pain experienced. If the pleasure you achieve exceeds the amount of pain you experience, then you are likely to be successful in replacing a negative behavior with a positive one. Since we tend to be pleasure seeking beings, this makes perfect sense. However, using the weight loss example, if you begin to exercise and fail to address other contributing factors such as diet and genetics, you can lose heart and drift back to the old behavior of slothfulness. In this case, the pleasure achieved begins to be surpassed by the amount of pain associated with not losing the weight. Therefore, you eventually fail to achieve your resolution. Let’s say you resolve to walk 2 miles a day to lose weight. You start in the spring when the temperature hits 65 degrees. You walk consistently throughout the summer deep into the autumn. But then winter hits and the temperatures drop to the single digits. All of a sudden, walking becomes more “painful”. By the time you are able to go out for your walk, it is dark, cold, and the wind is blowing. The increase in that pain level results in you rationalizing not going for a walk. By the time summer hits, you realize that you have not walked 2 miles in several months. Then you have to overcome the pain of starting a new behavior all over again. Resolutions just do not have the staying power of goals. An important distinction between resolutions and goals is that resolutions look back at what you have to give up. Goals look forward to what you can achieve. I believe that every individual, and every small business, needs to set two types of goals: strategic and annual. Your annual goals will support your strategic goals. Your strategic goals should support your VMP statements. VMP stands for your vision, mission, and purpose statements. The process of setting goals will not be so intimidating when you understand the flow created by well structured goals. Short-term goals, those where execution should happen within a twelve month period, are typically not strategic in nature. These goals are the building blocks of personal success. I call short-term goals the DNA of personal success. Goal setting starts with a simple process and can grow to complex in nature. The building blocks of simple goals are: Present State Analysis, Desired Future State, Gap Analysis, and Time. The duration between the PSA and the DFS is where you will identify your objectives. Objectives are those markers that indicate if you are on track for successful achievement. This is part of the measuring process. A present state analysis begins the process and answers the question “Where did you came from, and how did you arrived at your present state? By determining the pathway you took to arrive at your present state, you can understand patterns of behavior that need to be capitalized on or changed. Your desired future state is where you want to be in 90, 120, or 365 days from today. The gap analysis looks at what actions you need to take in order to achieve your desired future state. Eventually, your desired future state becomes your present state. The time frame is a measurement cycle of the goal achievement. A single pathway is created when you set short-term goals that build on each level of achievement. This is the compounding effect of goals that are targeted to achieve a single long-term outcome. Complimentary pathways are created when you set a series of single pathway goals that build on each level of achievement. Two or more single pathways that enhance each other but do not effect each other create the complimentary pathway. Each pathway compliments the other but is targeted for different outcomes. Complex pathways are created when you set a series of goals that have dependencies, where each goal has targets that impact the other goals as well as having various outcomes. This type of pathway looks complicated but in reality you have several goals that contribute towards an overall outcome. For example, you might have an overall outcome of increasing your financial stability. That is a broad goal. The single pathways might include 401k savings w/company match, a savings and investment goal, and paying down debt. Each goal pathway has a specific outcome but collectively they all roll up to financial stability. As you become more familiar with the concept of SMART goals you will find that is simply comes down to this building block. Present State – Desired Future State – Time Frame. In other words, I have “X” today and I want “Y” in the next 90, 120, or 365 days. This building block is specific, measureable, and time limited. Making the goal achievable and relevant is dependent upon your current state analysis, your current resources, and your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). I will cover that in part two of Strategic Goals.