It's fast approaching the time of year when many people think about setting New Year resolutions. The business version of that is a business owner thinking about what's coming up in 2014 and setting goals to achieve their dreams ...
Do you have clearly defined goals for 2014 or like our hero in Jack And The Beanstalk are you trusting your fate to a few magic beans?
Setting goals in your business helps you move towards something that is really meaningful to you. If it's not meaningful, it's pointless setting goals! Meaningful goals help focus us on the things we need to do and therefore achieve what we want. What is it you want? Do you know?
And yes, it's also the pantomime time of year. Our friend Jack, with his beanstalk and golden goose, was happy and didn't bother with goal setting. Can you do without goals in business? Oh no you can't!
Jack was a real chancer. His mother told him to sell their cow as they had no money and needed food. Jack, of course, didn't do what he was told and exchanged it for something far more exciting. He then set off up a beanstalk grown from some magic beans.
Do you know any business people like that? Not only is he a chancer, he's an idle dreamer with no real plans, isn't interested in setting goals and has no work ethic whatsoever.
I have real trouble with this story, in a coaching sense. Here's this chancer, who has no plans, steals eggs, money and a golden harp and we view him as a hero! He seems to live happily ever after (albeit once he's had a lucky escape).
So, what's the moral of the story? It could be to take pot luck, see what happens and hope that things will turn out OK. A modern day equivalent could be to say it's OK not to work hard, as you might get some magical marketing solution from social media, even if it involves ripping people off?
"We can't all be lucky enough to find magic beans and steal our fortune. The alternative involves setting goals for our success."
But what's the real message here? Be wary, guard your valuables and watch out for chancers? Maybe, but let's look at it from a perspective of solid work, plans and ambitions. My top tips for setting goals are:
Ensure your goals are something that really mean something to you. Owning a new Mercedes may mean a lot to you but it means nothing to me. The feeling as you drive it may be even more evocative and inspiring, so focus on the emotion.
Set goals that are realistic, but not easy. Having this focus will start to move you towards them. If your goals are really meaningful, but stretching and just about achievable, you're likely to achieve a lot more.
Tell people. The more people that know your goal, the more embarrassing it is to not achieve it, the harder you'll keep going when it's cold, dark and you need motivating. Jack came down the beanstalk a lot faster when the giant was behind him. You'll work harder on your goals when you can say "he's behind you", and that's where a good business coach can come in.
What's the alternative to setting goals? Well, actually, there is no alternative! "Oh yes there is!" I hear you shout. My reply is most definitely "Oh no there's not!" If you think you can just carry on and see what happens, or simply trust in luck and hope you find some magic beans then you'll be sorely disappointed with 2014.
In life, unlike in panto land, we make our own luck! So be lucky and have a great 2014.